In-vivo patellar tendon kinematics during weight-bearing deep knee flexion

J Orthop Res. 2012 Oct;30(10):1596-603. doi: 10.1002/jor.22126. Epub 2012 Apr 10.


This study quantified in-vivo 3D patellar tendon kinematics during weight-bearing deep knee bend beyond 150°. Each knee was MRI scanned to create 3D bony models of the patella, tibia, femur, and the attachment sites of the patellar tendon on the distal patella and the tibial tubercle. Each attachment site was divided into lateral, central, and medial thirds. The subjects were then imaged using a dual fluoroscopic image system while performing a deep knee bend. The knee positions were determined using the bony models and the fluoroscopic images. The patellar tendon kinematics was analyzed using the relative positions of its patellar and tibial attachment sites. The relative elongations of all three portions of the patellar tendon increased similarly up to 60°. Beyond 60°, the relative elongation of the medial portion of the patellar tendon decreased as the knee flexed from 60° to 150° while those of the lateral and central portions showed continuous increases from 120° to 150°. At 150°, the relative elongation of the medial portion was significantly lower than that of the central portion. In four of seven knees, the patellar tendon impinged on the tibial bony surface at 120° and 150° of knee flexion. These data may provide useful insight into the intrinsic patellar tendon biomechanics during a weight-bearing deep knee bend and could provide biomechanical guidelines for future development of total knee arthroplasties that are intended to restore normal knee function.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patellar Ligament / physiology*
  • Tibia / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing
  • Young Adult