A model of stress and strain in the interosseous ligament of the forearm based on fiber network theory

J Biomech Eng. 2006 Oct;128(5):725-32. doi: 10.1115/1.2241730.


Fiber network theory was developed to describe cloth, a thin material with strength in the fiber directions. The interosseous ligament (IOL) of the forearm is a broad, thin ligament with highly aligned fibers. The objectives of this study were to develop a model of the stress and strain distributions in the IOL, based on fiber network theory, to compare the strains from the model with the experimentally measured strains, and to evaluate the force distribution across the ligament fibers from the model. The geometries of the radius, ulna, and IOL were reconstructed from CT scans. Position and orientation of IOL insertion sites and force in the IOL were measured during a forearm compression experiment in pronation, neutral rotation, and supination. An optical image-based technique was used to directly measure strain in two regions of the IOL in neutral rotation. For the network model, the IOL was represented as a parametric ruled three-dimensional surface, with rulings along local fiber directions. Fiber strains were calculated from the deformation field, and fiber stresses were calculated from the strains using average IOL tensile properties from a previous study. The in situ strain in the IOL was assumed uniform and was calculated so that the net force predicted by the network model in neutral rotation matched the experimental result. The net force in the IOL was comparable to experimental results in supination and pronation. The model predicted higher stress and strain in fibers near the elbow in neutral rotation, and higher stresses in fibers near the wrist in supination. Strains in neutral forearm rotation followed the same trends as those measured experimentally. In this study, a model of stress and strain in the IOL utilizing fiber network theory was successfully implemented. The model illustrates variations in the stress and strain distribution in the IOL. This model can be used to show surgeons how different fibers are taut in different forearm rotation positions-this information is important for understanding the biomechanical role of the IOL and for planning an IOL reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anisotropy
  • Cadaver
  • Compressive Strength / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Elasticity
  • Forearm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tensile Strength / physiology