Anterior cruciate ligament injury induced by internal tibial torsion or tibiofemoral compression

J Biomech. 2008 Dec 5;41(16):3377-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.09.023. Epub 2008 Nov 12.


The knee is one of the most frequently injured joints in the human body. Approximately 91% of ACL injuries occur during sporting activities, usually from a non-contact event. The most common kinetic scenarios related with ACL injuries are internal twisting of the tibia relative to the femur or combined torque and compression during a hard landing. The hypothesis of this study was that the magnitudes and types of motion observed after ACL rupture would significantly change from the relative joint displacements present just before ACL injury. Compression or torsion experiments were conducted on 7 pairs of knee joints with repetitive tests at increasing intensity until catastrophic failure. ACL injury was documented in all cases at 5.4+/-2kN of TF compression or 33+/-13Nm of internal tibial torque. The femur displaced posteriorly relative to the tibia in pre-failure and with a higher magnitude in failure tests under both loading conditions. In compression experiments there was internal rotation of the tibia in pre-failure tests, but external rotation of the tibia after the ACL failed. In torsion experiments, failure occurred at 58+/-19 degrees of internal tibial rotation, and valgus rotation of the femur increased significantly after ACL injury. These new data show that the joint motions can vary in magnitude and direction before and after failure of the ACL. Video-based studies consistently document external rotation of the tibia combined with valgus knee bending as the mechanism of ACL injury although these motions could be occurring after ACL rupture.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / physiopathology*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Cadaver
  • Compressive Strength
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Femur / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / etiology*
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pressure
  • Tibia / physiopathology*