Biomedical Engineering Faculty Research


Finite Element Analysis to Characterize How Varying Patellar Loading Influences Pressure Applied to Cartilage: Model Evaluation

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Publication Date

Spring 5-29-2014


A finite element analysis (FEA) modeling technique has been developed to characterize how varying the orientation of the patellar tendon influences the patellofemoral pressure distribution. To evaluate the accuracy of the technique, models were created from MRI images to represent five knees that were previously tested in vitro to determine the influence of hamstrings loading on patellofemoral contact pressures. Hamstrings loading increased the lateral and posterior orientation of the patellar tendon. Each model was loaded at 40°, 60°, and 80° of flexion with quadriceps force vectors representing the experimental loading conditions. The orientation of the patellar tendon was represented for the loaded and unloaded hamstrings conditions based on experimental measures of tibiofemoral alignment. Similar to the experimental data, simulated loading of the hamstrings within the FEA models shifted the center of pressure laterally and increased the maximum lateral pressure. Significant (p < 0.05) differences were identified for the center of pressure and maximum lateral pressure from paired t-tests carried out at the individual flexion angles. The ability to replicate experimental trends indicates that the FEA models can be used for future studies focused on determining how variations in the orientation of the patellar tendon related to anatomical or loading variations or surgical procedures influence the patellofemoral pressure distribution.

Publication Title

Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering





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