A validated three-dimensional computational model of a human knee joint

J Biomech Eng. 1999 Dec;121(6):657-62. doi: 10.1115/1.2800871.


This paper presents a three-dimensional finite element tibio-femoral joint model of a human knee that was validated using experimental data. The geometry of the joint model was obtained from magnetic resonance (MR) images of a cadaveric knee specimen. The same specimen was biomechanically tested using a robotic/universal force-moment sensor (UFS) system and knee kinematic data under anterior-posterior tibial loads (up to 100 N) were obtained. In the finite element model (FEM), cartilage was modeled as an elastic material, ligaments were represented as nonlinear elastic springs, and menisci were simulated by equivalent-resistance springs. Reference lengths (zero-load lengths) of the ligaments and stiffness of the meniscus springs were estimated using an optimization procedure that involved the minimization of the differences between the kinematics predicted by the model and those obtained experimentally. The joint kinematics and in-situ forces in the ligaments in response to axial tibial moments of up to 10 Nm were calculated using the model and were compared with published experimental data on knee specimens. It was also demonstrated that the equivalent-resistance springs representing the menisci are important for accurate calculation of knee kinematics. Thus, the methodology developed in this study can be a valuable tool for further analysis of knee joint function and could serve as a step toward the development of more advanced computational knee models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cadaver
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Rotation
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology