Nanoindentation of Human Meniscal Surfaces

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Menisci are crescent shaped fibrocartilaginous structures which support load distribution of the knee. The menisci are specifically designed to fit the contour of the femoral condyles, aiding to disperse the stresses on the tibial plateau and in turn safeguarding the underlying articular cartilage. The importance of the meniscal superficial layer has not been fully revealed and it is suspected that this layer plays a pivotal role for meniscal function. In this study, both femoral (proximal) and tibial (distal) contacting meniscal surfaces were mechanically examined on the nano-level among three distinct regions (anterior, central and posterior) of the lateral and medial menisci. Nanoindentation testing showed no significant differences among regions, surfaces or anatomical locations, possibly elucidating on the homogeneity of the meniscal superficial zone structure (Einstantaneous: 3.17-4.12MPa, Esteady-state: 1.47-1.69MPa). Nanomechanical moduli values were approximately an order of magnitude greater than micro-scale testing derived moduli values. These findings validate the structural homogeneity of the meniscal superficial zone, showing that material properties are statistically similar regardless of meniscal surface and region. Understanding the mechanical behavior of meniscal surfaces is imperative to properly design an effective meniscal replacement.

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© 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication Title

Journal of Biomechanics