Effects of tibial rotations on patellar tracking and patello-femoral contact areas

J Biomed Eng. 1992 Jul;14(4):329-43. doi: 10.1016/0141-5425(92)90008-9.


The object of this study is to determine the effect of tibial rotations on the three-dimensional patello-femoral motions and contact areas during a physiological loading condition, the knee-extension exercise. A commercially available device, the 3-SPACE digitizer and tracker system, was used to collect the motion data, utilizing cadaveric human lower limbs as well as the geometric measurements describing the articular surfaces at the patello-femoral joint. It was found that tibial rotations caused statistically significant differences, at the 0.05 level, in patellar tilt, patellar rotation and patellar medial-lateral shift. It was also found that while the magnitude of the total contact area at a given knee flexion angle did not change significantly with tibial rotations, medial and lateral components of the total contact areas were affected by tibial rotations. Medical femoral contact areas increased with internal tibial rotations at all flexion angles; lateral femoral contact areas increased with external tibial rotations at all flexion angles. This correlates well with the kinematic data since it was found that the patella shifted medially with internal tibial rotations at all flexion angles, and titled more medially near full-extension causing an increase in the medial contact areas and a decrease in the lateral contact areas.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Femur / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement
  • Patella / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rotation
  • Tibia / physiology*