Identification of capillary blood pressure levels at which capillary collapse is likely in a tissue subjected to large compressive and shear deformations.Comput Methods Biomech Biomed Engin 2012; 15(1):59-71CM
Pressure ulcers (PU) are localised damage to skin and underlying tissues, caused by sustained tissue deformations and ischaemia. PU typically appear in insensitive or immobile patients, e.g. those with spinal cord injury (SCI) or geriatric patients. As these patients often experience fluctuations in blood pressure, and are also exposed to high-shear loads in their weight-bearing soft tissues during wheelchair sitting or bed rest, we used an inverse finite element method to determine the effects of capillary blood pressure (CBP) and shear deformations on occurrence of mechanical collapse in capillaries. We studied collapse in straight, U-shaped and bifurcated capillaries. All model configurations were consistent in demonstrating that the level of CBP has a considerable influence on the likelihood of capillary collapse in the physiological CBP range, particularly if shear is present. Our modelling therefore suggests that low CBP is a 'suspect' risk factor for PU in SCI and geriatric patients.