Interstitial fluid pressure in soft tissue as a result of an externally applied contact pressure

A L Darling, P K Yalavarthy, M M Doyley, H Dehghani, B W Pogue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Manipulation of interstitial fluid pressure (IFP) has a clinical potential when used in conjunction with near-infrared spectroscopy for the detection of breast cancer. In order to better interpret how the applied pressure alters the vascular space and interstitial water volumes in breast tissue, a study on tissue-mimicking, gelatin phantoms was carried out to mimic the translation of external force into internal pressures. A complete set of three-dimensional (3D) pressure maps were obtained for the interior volumes of phantoms as an external force of 10 mmHg was applied, using mixtures of elastic moduli 19 and 33 kPa to simulate adipose and fibroglandular values of breast tissue. Corresponding linear elastic finite element analysis (FEA) cases were formulated. Shear stress, nonlinear mechanical properties, gravity and tissue geometry were all observed to contribute to internal pressure distribution, with surface shear stresses increasing internal pressures near the surface to greater than twice the applied external pressure. Average pressures by depth were predicted by the linear elastic FEA models. FEA models were run for cases mimicking a 93 kPa tumor inclusion within regions of adipose, fibroglandular tissue, and a composite of the two tissue types to illustrate the localized high fluid pressures caused by a tumor when an external force is applied. The conclusion was that external contact forces can generate potentially clinically useful fluid pressure magnitudes in regions of sharp effective elastic modulus gradients, such as tumor boundaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4121-36
Number of pages16
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2007


  • Breast
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Computer Simulation
  • Elasticity
  • Extracellular Fluid
  • Hardness
  • Humans
  • Manometry
  • Models, Biological
  • Palpation
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Pressure
  • Stress, Mechanical


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