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Ann Biomed Eng. 2016 Apr;44(4):1148-58. doi: 10.1007/s10439-015-1402-8. Epub 2015 Aug 4.

Determining Tension-Compression Nonlinear Mechanical Properties of Articular Cartilage from Indentation Testing.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, 130 Academy Street SPL 126, Newark, DE, 19716, USA.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, 12180, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, 130 Academy Street SPL 126, Newark, DE, 19716, USA.


The indentation test is widely used to determine the in situ biomechanical properties of articular cartilage. The mechanical parameters estimated from the test depend on the constitutive model adopted to analyze the data. Similar to most connective tissues, the solid matrix of cartilage displays different mechanical properties under tension and compression, termed tension-compression nonlinearity (TCN). In this study, cartilage was modeled as a porous elastic material with either a conewise linear elastic matrix with cubic symmetry or a solid matrix reinforced by a continuous fiber distribution. Both models are commonly used to describe the TCN of cartilage. The roles of each mechanical property in determining the indentation response of cartilage were identified by finite element simulation. Under constant loading, the equilibrium deformation of cartilage is mainly dependent on the compressive modulus, while the initial transient creep behavior is largely regulated by the tensile stiffness. More importantly, altering the permeability does not change the shape of the indentation creep curves, but introduces a parallel shift along the horizontal direction on a logarithmic time scale. Based on these findings, a highly efficient curve-fitting algorithm was designed, which can uniquely determine the three major mechanical properties of cartilage (compressive modulus, tensile modulus, and permeability) from a single indentation test. The new technique was tested on adult bovine knee cartilage and compared with results from the classic biphasic linear elastic curve-fitting program.


Biphasic; Creep; Curve-fitting; Fiber-reinforced; Optimization

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