The effect of meniscal tears and resultant partial meniscectomies on the knee contact stresses: a finite element analysis

Comput Methods Biomech Biomed Engin. 2014;17(13):1452-63. doi: 10.1080/10255842.2012.753063. Epub 2013 Jan 3.


Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is believed to result from high levels of contact stresses on the articular cartilage and meniscus after meniscal damage. This study investigated the effect of meniscal tears and partial meniscectomies on the peak compressive and shear stresses in the human knee joint. An elaborate three-dimensional finite element model of knee joint including bones, articular cartilages, menisci and main ligaments was developed from computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging images. This model was used to model four types of meniscal tears and their resultant partial meniscectomies and analysed under an axial 1150 N load at 0° flexion. Three different conditions were compared: a healthy knee joint, a knee joint with medial meniscal tears and a knee joint following partial meniscectomies. The numerical results showed that each meniscal tear and its resultant partial meniscectomy led to an increase in the peak compressive and shear stresses on the articular cartilages and meniscus in the medial knee compartment, especially for partial meniscectomy. Among the four types of meniscal tears, the oblique tear resulted in the highest values of the peak compressive and shear stresses. For the four partial meniscectomies, longitudinal meniscectomy led to the largest increase in these two stresses. The lateral compartment was minimally affected by all the simulations. The results of this study demonstrate meniscal tear and its resultant partial meniscectomy has a positive impact on the maintenance of high levels of contact stresses, which may improve the progression of knee OA, especially for partial meniscectomy. Surgeons should adopt a prudent strategy to preserve the greatest amount of meniscus possible.

Keywords: compressive stress; finite element analysis; knee osteoarthritis; meniscal tear; partial meniscectomy; shear stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Knee Injuries / surgery
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery*
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries*