Tibio-femoral movement in the living knee. A study of weight bearing and non-weight bearing knee kinematics using 'interventional' MRI

J Biomech. 2005 Feb;38(2):269-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2004.02.008.


The aim of this study was to image tibio-femoral movement during flexion in the living knee. Ten loaded male Caucasian knees were initially studied using MRI, and the relative tibio-femoral motions, through the full flexion arc in neutral tibial rotation, were measured. On knee flexion from hyperextension to 120 degrees , the lateral femoral condyle moved posteriorly 22 mm. From 120 degrees to full squatting there was another 10 mm of posterior translation, with the lateral femoral condyle appearing almost to sublux posteriorly. The medial femoral condyle demonstrated minimal posterior translation until 120 degrees . Thereafter, it moved 9 mm posteriorly to lie on the superior surface of the medial meniscal posterior horn. Thus, during flexion of the knee to 120 degrees , the femur rotated externally through an angle of 20 degrees . However, on flexion beyond 120 degrees , both femoral condyles moved posteriorly to a similar degree. The second part of this study investigated the effect of gender, side, load and longitudinal rotation. The pattern of relative tibio-femoral movement during knee flexion appears to be independent of gender and side. Femoral external rotation (or tibial internal rotation) occurs with knee flexion under loaded and unloaded conditions, but the magnitude of rotation is greater and occurs earlier on weight bearing. With flexion plus tibial internal rotation, the pattern of movement follows that in neutral. With flexion in tibial external rotation, the lateral femoral condyle adopts a more anterior position relative to the tibia and, particularly in the non-weight bearing knee, much of the femoral external rotation that occurs with flexion is reversed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Femur / anatomy & histology
  • Femur / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology
  • Tibia / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*