The Knee, ISSN: 0968-0160, Vol: 17, Issue: 1, Page: 61-68

Predicting the effects of knee focal articular surface injury with a patient-specific finite element model

Papaioannou, George; Demetropoulos, Constantine K; King, Yang H

Successful focal articular surface injury (FAI) repair depends on appropriate matching of the geometrical/material properties of the repaired site, and on the overall dynamic response of the knee to in-vivo loading. There is evidence linking the pathogenesis of lesion progression (e.g. osteoarthritis) to weightbearing site and defect size. The paper investigates further this link by studying the effects of osteochondral defect size on the load distribution at the human knee. Experimental data from cadaver knees ( n = 8) loaded at 30° of flexion was used as input to a validated finite element (FE) model. Contact pressure was assessed for the intact knees and over a range of circular osteochondral defects (5 mm to 20 mm) at 30° of flexion with 700 N axial load. Patient specific FE models and the specific boundary conditions of the experimental set-up were used to analyze the osteochondral defects. Stress concentration around the rims of defects 8 mm and smaller was not significant and pressure distribution was dominated by the menisci. Experimental data was confirmed by the model. For defects 10 mm and greater, distribution of peak pressures followed the rim of the defect with a mean distance from the rim of 2.64 mm on the medial condyle and 2.90 mm on the lateral condyle (model predictions were 2.63 and 2.87 mm respectively). Statistical significance was reported when comparing defects that differed by 4 mm or greater (except for the 5 mm case). Peak rim pressure did not significantly increase as defects were enlarged from 10 mm to 20 mm. Peak values were always significantly higher over the medial femoral condyle. Although the decision to treat osteochondral lesions is multifactorial, the results of this finite element analysis indicate that a size threshold of 10 mm, may be a useful early adjunct to guide clinical decision-making. This modified FE method can be employed for in-vivo studies.

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