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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 17, 2003

UI Engineer Receives American Heart Association Grant

Madhavan L. Raghavan, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, has received a two-year, $121,000 grant from the American Heart Association to study the mechanics of ruptured arteries.

Raghavan is principal investigator for the project titled, "Failure Strength Distribution In Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm." His co-investigators in the international project are Erasmo Simao da Silva, assistant professor of surgery, and Maria Higuchi, professor of pathology, at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; and K.B. Chandran, professor and chair of biomedical engineering in the UI College of Engineering and a senior research engineer in IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a ballooning of a large artery in the abdomen. If left untreated, it will rupture, causing death in most cases. Strangely, this rupture can occur at early stages of disease in some patients, but later in others. Doctors would like to know an aneurysm's risk of rupture, so as to perform surgery only when it is most necessary. Raghavan, along with Baoshun Ma and Jarin Kratzberg, graduate students in his lab, are studying why some aneurysms rupture and others don't by using biomechanical experiments and computer modeling. In this project, a mechanical testing system will be purchased, modified and installed in Brazil and be used to apply varying amounts of forces to the arterial tissue obtained during autopsies.

"As engineers, we believe that the basic question of whether an aneurysm is safe from rupture is, in its essence, similar to asking whether a bridge built 50 years ago is safe for use today. It comes down to studying materials and how they change over time -- in this case, the aneurysm tissue," Raghavan says. "How much force is required to rupture an aneurysm and how does it vary from patient to patient, depending upon aneurysm size, shape, age, sex and other variables? The answer may provide us a means for predicting the rupture risk of future aneurysm patients."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, Writer, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu