How the stiffness of meniscal attachments and meniscal material properties affect tibio-femoral contact pressure computed using a validated finite element model of the human knee joint

Document Type


Publication Date



In an effort to prevent degeneration of articular cartilage associated with meniscectomies, both meniscal allografts and synthetic replacements are subjects of current interest and investigation. The objectives of the current study were to (1) determine whether a transversely isotropic, linearly elastic, homogeneous material model of the meniscal tissue is necessary to achieve a normal contact pressure distribution on the tibial plateau, (2) determine which material and boundary condition (attachments) parameters affect the contact pressure distribution most strongly, and (3) set tolerances on these parameters to restore the contact pressure distribution to within a specified error. To satisfy these objectives, a finite element model of the tibio-femoral joint of a human cadaveric knee (including both menisci) was used to study the contact pressure distribution on the tibial plateau. To validate the model, the contact pressure distribution on the tibial plateau was measured experimentally in the same knee used to create the model. Within physiologically reasonable bounds on five material parameters and four attachment parameters associated with a meniscal replacement, an optimization was performed under 1200N of compressive load on the set of nine parameters to minimize the difference between the experimental and model results. The error between the experimental and model contact variables was minimized to 5.4%. The contact pressure distribution of the tibial plateau was sensitive to the circumferential modulus, axial/radial modulus, and horn stiffness, but relatively insensitive to the remaining six parameters. Consequently, both the circumferential and axial/radial moduli are important determinants of the contact pressure distribution, and hence should be matched in the design and/or selection of meniscal replacements. In addition, during surgical implantation of a meniscal replacement, the horns should be attached with high stiffness bone plugs, and the attachments of the transverse ligament and deep medial collateral ligament should be restored to minimize changes in the contact pressure distribution, and thereby possibly prevent the degradation of articular cartilage. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Journal of Biomechanics