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J Biomech Eng. 2006 Aug;128(4):623-30.

Dynamic response of immature bovine articular cartilage in tension and compression, and nonlinear viscoelastic modeling of the tensile response.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 500 W. 120th st., MC 4703, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Very limited information is currently available on the constitutive modeling of the tensile response of articular cartilage and its dynamic modulus at various loading frequencies. The objectives of this study were to (1) formulate and experimentally validate a constitutive model for the intrinsic viscoelasticity of cartilage in tension, (2) confirm the hypothesis that energy dissipation in tension is less than in compression at various loading frequencies, and (3) test the hypothesis that the dynamic modulus of cartilage in unconfined compression is dependent upon the dynamic tensile modulus. Experiment 1: Immature bovine articular cartilage samples were tested in tensile stress relaxation and cyclical loading. A proposed reduced relaxation function was fitted to the stress-relaxation response and the resulting material coefficients were used to predict the response to cyclical loading. Adjoining tissue samples were tested in unconfined compression stress relaxation and cyclical loading. Experiment 2: Tensile stress relaxation experiments were performed at varying strains to explore the strain-dependence of the viscoelastic response. The proposed relaxation function successfully fit the experimental tensile stress-relaxation response, with R2 = 0.970+/-0.019 at 1% strain and R2 = 0.992+/-0.007 at 2% strain. The predicted cyclical response agreed well with experimental measurements, particularly for the dynamic modulus at various frequencies. The relaxation function, measured from 2% to 10% strain, was found to be strain dependent, indicating that cartilage is nonlinearly viscoelastic in tension. Under dynamic loading, the tensile modulus at 10 Hz was approximately 2.3 times the value of the equilibrium modulus. In contrast, the dynamic stiffening ratio in unconfined compression was approximately 24. The energy dissipation in tension was found to be significantly smaller than in compression (dynamic phase angle of 16.7+/-7.4 deg versus 53.5+/-12.8 deg at 10(-3) Hz). A very strong linear correlation was observed between the dynamic tensile and dynamic compressive moduli at various frequencies (R2 = 0.908+/-0.100). The tensile response of cartilage is nonlinearly viscoelastic, with the relaxation response varying with strain. A proposed constitutive relation for the tensile response was successfully validated. The frequency response of the tensile modulus of cartilage was reported for the first time. Results emphasize that fluid-flow dependent viscoelasticity dominates the compressive response of cartilage, whereas intrinsic solid matrix viscoelasticity dominates the tensile response. Yet the dynamic compressive modulus of cartilage is critically dependent upon elevated values of the dynamic tensile modulus.

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