© 2012 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 30:1133–1139, 2012

Finite element prediction of cartilage contact stresses in normal human hips

Michael D. Harris Andrew E. Anderson Corinne R. Henak Benjamin J. Ellis Christopher L. Peters Jeffrey A. Weiss

Our objectives were to determine cartilage contact stress during walking, stair climbing, and descending stairs in a well‐defined group of normal volunteers and to assess variations in contact stress and area among subjects and across loading scenarios. Ten volunteers without history of hip pain or disease with normal lateral center‐edge angle and acetabular index were selected. Computed tomography imaging with contrast was performed on one hip. Bone and cartilage surfaces were segmented from volumetric image data, and subject‐specific finite element models were constructed and analyzed using a validated protocol. Acetabular contact stress and area were determined for seven activities. Peak stress ranged from 7.52 ± 2.11 MPa for heel‐strike during walking (233% BW) to 8.66 ± 3.01 MPa for heel‐strike during descending stairs (261% BW). Average contact area across all activities was 34% of the surface area of the acetabular cartilage. The distribution of contact stress was highly non‐uniform, and more variability occurred among subjects for a given activity than among activities for a single subject. The magnitude and area of contact stress were consistent between activities, although inter‐activity shifts in contact pattern were found as the direction of loading changed. Relatively small incongruencies between the femoral and acetabular cartilage had a large effect on the contact stresses. These effects tended to persist across all simulated activities. These results demonstrate the diversity and trends in cartilage contact stress in healthy hips during activities of daily living and provide a basis for future comparisons between normal and pathologic hips.

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