Journal of Elasticity
Reason for embargo
Brain swelling is a serious condition associated with an accumulation of fluid inside the brain that can be caused by trauma, stroke, infection, or tumors. It increases the pressure inside the skull and reduces blood and oxygen supply. To relieve the intracranial pressure, neurosurgeons remove part of the skull and allow the swollen brain to bulge outward, a procedure known as decompressive craniectomy. Decompressive craniectomy has been preformed for more than a century; yet, its effects on the swollen brain remain poorly understood. Here we characterize the deformation, strain, and stretch in bulging brains using the nonlinear field theories of mechanics. Our study shows that even small swelling volumes of 28 to 56 ml induce maximum principal strains in excess of 30 %. For radially outward-pointing axons, we observe maximal normal stretches of 1.3 deep inside the bulge and maximal tangential stretches of 1.3 around the craniectomy edge. While the stretch magnitude varies with opening site and swelling region, our study suggests that the locations of maximum stretch are universally shared amongst all bulging brains. Our model has the potential to inform neurosurgeons and rationalize the shape and position of the skull opening, with the ultimate goal to reduce brain damage and improve the structural and functional outcomes of decompressive craniectomy in trauma patients.
We thank Allan L. Reiss and his group for providing the MRI scans. This work was supported by the Timoshenko Scholar Award to Alain Goriely and by the Humboldt Research Award and the National Institutes of Health grant U01 HL119578 to Ellen Kuhl.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Springer Verlag via the DOI in this record.
Published online 24 October 2016