Natural blood vessels exhibit a specific deformation response to an internal pressure. Due to the complex design of the vessel wall, the compliance of a natural vessel decreases with increasing dilation. The ultimate goal of designing an artificial blood vessel is to mimic the mechanical behaviour of a natural blood vessel.
Linear and branched blood vessels can be studied in a testing set-up which is able to apply complex fluid pressure profiles to the vessel system. High resolution measurements of the vessel deformation can be recorded with a laser scanner, the 2-D strain response due to the bi-axial loading can be studied by image processing. Since the set-up relies on non-contact measurements of the strain response, the measurements can also be carried out on vessels in a suitable bioreactor. Flow sensors are available for measuring the distribution of flows in a branched system.