Some effects of global joint morphology on local stress aberrations near imprecisely reduced intra-articular fractures

J Biomech. 1990;23(8):811-22. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(90)90028-2.


Cadaver models of contact pressure aberration near displaced intra-articular fractures complement clinical experience, but inter-specimen variability often complicates interpretation of in vitro data. A contact finite element formulation is here used to study juxta-articular stress distributions in a plane strain model of tibial plateau step-off incongruity. Attention is focused on the influence of global morphologic parameters: intact joint surface curvatures, cartilage thickness, and cartilage stiffness. The computed stress distributions agreed well with experimental recordings for a typical 3 mm incongruity in an otherwise normal joint. Both decreased cartilage thickness and increased cartilage modulus led to elevations in the peak local contact stress, and to concentration of contact stress near the edge of the step-off incongruity. Similar effects were seen when reduction of global joint congruency was modelled by decreasing the concavity of the tibial plateau. While the observed degree of coupling between global morphology and local stress aberration was by no means negligible, the sensitivity of the stresses to variations in individual parameters was relatively mild. This suggests that the finite element results will be useful for experimental data interpretation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology
  • Elasticity
  • Fractures, Bone / physiopathology*
  • Fractures, Bone / therapy
  • Humans
  • Joints / injuries*
  • Joints / pathology
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pressure
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tibial Fractures / pathology
  • Tibial Fractures / physiopathology