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J Biomed Eng. 1993 Jul;15(4):289-302.

A three-dimensional anatomical model of the human patello-femoral joint, for the determination of patello-femoral motions and contact characteristics.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Toledo, Ohio 43606.


The object of this study is to develop a three-dimensional mathematical model of the patello-femoral joint, which is modelled as two rigid bodies representing a moving patella and a fixed femur. Two-point contact was assumed between the femur and patella at the medial and lateral sides and in the analysis, the femoral and patellar articular surfaces were mathematically represented using Coons' bicubic surface patches. Model equations include six equilibrium equations and eleven constraints: six contact conditions, four geometric compatibility conditions, and the condition of a rigid patellar ligament; the model required the solution of a system of 17 nonlinear equations in 17 unknowns, its response describing the six-degrees-of-freedom patellar motions and the forces acting on the patella. Patellar motions are described by six motion parameters representing the translations and rotations of the patella with respect to the femur. The forces acting on the patella include the medial and lateral component of patello-femoral contact and the patellar ligament force, all of which were represented as ratios to the quadriceps tendon force. The model response also includes the locations of the medial and lateral contact points on the femur and the patella. A graphical display of its response was produced in order to visualize better the motion of the components of the extensor mechanism. Model calculations show good agreement with experimental results available from the literature. The patella was found to move distally and posteriorly on the femoral condyles as the knee was flexed from full extension. Results indicate that the relative orientation of the patellar ligament with respect to the patella remains unchanged during this motion. The model also predicts a patellar flexion which always lagged knee flexion. Our calculations show that as the angle of knee flexion increased, the lateral contact point moved distally on the femur without moving significantly either medially or laterally. The medial contact point also moved distally on the femur but moved medially from full extension to about 40 degrees of knee flexion, then laterally as the knee flexion angle increased. The lateral contact point on the patella did not change significantly in the medial and lateral direction as the knee was flexed; however, this point moved proximally toward the basis of the patella with knee flexion. The medial contact point also moved proximally on the patella with knee flexion, and in a similar manner the medial contact point on the patella moved distally with flexion from full extension to about 40 degrees of flexion.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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