Medical phantoms can be used to study needle-tissue interaction and to train medical residents. The purpose of this research is to study the suitability of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) as a liver tissue mimicking material in terms of needle-tissue interaction. Insertions into ex-vivo human livers were used for reference. Six PVA samples were created by varying the mass percentage of PVA to water (4 m% and 7 m%) and the number of freeze-thaw cycles (1, 2 and 3 cycles, 16 hours of freezing at −19 °C, 8 hours of thawing). The inner needle of an 18 Gauge trocar needle with triangular tip was inserted 13 times into each of the samples, using an insertion velocity of 5 mm/s. In addition, 39 insertions were performed in two ex-vivo human livers. Axial forces on the needle were captured during insertion and retraction and characterized by friction along the needle shaft, peak forces, and number of peak forces per unit length. The concentration of PVA and the number of freeze-thaw cycles both influenced the mechanical interaction between needle and specimen. Insertions into 4 m% PVA phantoms with 2 freeze-thaw cycles were comparable to human liver in terms of estimated friction along the needle shaft and the number of peak forces. Therefore, these phantoms are considered to be suitable liver mimicking materials for image-guided needle interventions. The mechanical properties of PVA hydrogels can be influenced in a controlled manner by varying the concentration of PVA and the number of freeze-thaw cycles, to mimic liver tissue characteristics.

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Keywords Medical phantoms, Needle-tissue interaction, Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) hydrogel, Radiologic liver interventions, Tissue mimicking material
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Journal Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
de Jong, T.L. (Tonke L.), Pluymen, L.H. (Loes H.), van Gerwen, D.J. (Dennis J.), Kleinrensink, G.J, Dankelman, J, & van den Dobbelsteen, J.J. (2017). PVA matches human liver in needle-tissue interaction. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 69, 223–228. doi:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2017.01.014