Methodology and sensitivity studies for finite element modeling of the inferior glenohumeral ligament complex

J Biomech. 2007;40(3):603-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2006.01.024. Epub 2006 Mar 31.


The objectives of this research were to develop a methodology for three-dimensional finite element (FE) modeling of the inferior glenohumeral ligament complex (IGHL complex) as a continuous structure, to determine optimal mesh density for FE simulations, to examine strains and forces in the IGHL complex in clinically relevant joint positions, and to perform sensitivity studies to assess the effects of assumed material properties. A simple translation test in the anterior direction was performed on a cadaveric shoulder, with the humerus oriented at 60 degrees of glenohumeral abduction and 0 degrees of flexion/extension, at 0 degrees , 30 degrees and 60 degrees of humeral external rotation. The geometries of the relevant structures were extracted from volumetric CT data to create a FE model. Experimentally measured kinematics were applied to the FE model to simulate the simple translation test. First principal strains, insertion site forces and contact forces were analyzed. At maximum anterior humeral translation, strains in the IGHL complex were highly inhomogeneous for all external rotation angles. The motion of the humerus with respect to the glenoid during the simple translation test produced a tangential load at the proximal and distal edges of the IGHL complex. This loading was primarily in the plane of the inferior glenohumeral ligament complex, producing an in-plane shear-loading pattern. There was a significant increase in strain with increasing angle of external rotation. The largest insertion site forces occurred at the axillary pouch insertion to the humerus (36.7N at 60 degrees of external rotation) and the highest contact forces were between the anterior band of the IGHL complex and the humeral cartilage (7.3N at 60 degrees of external rotation). Strain predictions were highly sensitive to changes in the ratio of bulk to shear modulus of the IGHL complex, while predictions were moderately sensitive to changes in elastic modulus of the IGHL complex. Changes to the material properties of the humeral cartilage had little effect on predicted strains. The methodologies developed in this research and the results of the mesh convergence and sensitivity studies provide a basis for the subject-specific modeling of the mechanics of the IGHL complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Finite Element Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Ligaments / anatomy & histology
  • Ligaments / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Shoulder Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology*