Human aortas are subjected to large mechanical stresses because of blood flow pressurization and through contact with the surrounding tissue. It is essential that the aorta does not lose stability by buckling with deformation of the cross-section (shell-like buckling) (i) for its proper functioning to ensure blood flow and (ii) to avoid high stresses in the aortic wall. A numerical bifurcation analysis employs a refined reducedorder model to investigate the stability of a straight aorta segment conveying blood flow. The structural model assumes a nonlinear cylindrical orthotropic laminated composite shell composed of three layers representing the tunica intima, media and adventitia. Residual stresses because of pressurization are evaluated and included in the model. The fluid is formulated using a hybrid model that contains the unsteady effects obtained from linear potential flow theory and the steady viscous effects obtained from the time-averaged Navier–Stokes equations. The aortic segment loses stability by divergence with deformation of the crosssection at a critical flow velocity for a given static pressure, exhibiting a strong subcritical behaviour with partial or total collapse of the inner wall. Preliminary results suggest directions for further study in relation to the appearance and growth of dissection in the aorta.
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