Improved techniques for measuring the indentation and thickness of articular cartilage

Proc Inst Mech Eng H. 1989;203(3):143-50. doi: 10.1243/PIME_PROC_1989_203_026_01.


A review of the techniques previously employed in the indentation and measurement of the thickness of articular cartilage has led to new and improved techniques for performing both measurements. By utilizing high-speed, microcomputer-controlled data logging techniques, simultaneous monitoring of signals from a dynamic load cell and a displacement transducer could be made throughout an indentation test. The position of the indenter as it touched the articular surface could thus be determined automatically by identifying the moment at which a positive change in the load signal occurred. Less accurate and more time consuming techniques previously required for determining the position of the cartilage surface were hence avoided. The apparatus also included a critically damped dashpot which prevented any transient loads being applied to the cartilage. Depths of indentation could be measured to an accuracy of 0.005 mm with a measurement repeatability of 2.14 per cent. By replacing the indenter with a sharp needle, the apparatus was also capable of measuring the undeformed thickness of cartilage. An accuracy of +/- 0.012 mm could be achieved with a measurement repeatability of 1.2 per cent. The apparatus is particularly suited to survey work where large numbers of indentation tests are to be performed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage, Articular* / anatomy & histology
  • Cartilage, Articular* / physiology
  • Elasticity
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Specimen Handling / methods