Biomechanical evaluation of knee endpoint during anterior tibial loading: Implication for physical exams

Knee. 2017 Mar;24(2):258-263. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2016.11.015. Epub 2017 Feb 8.


Background: Physical exams that apply anterior tibial loads are typically used to evaluate knees with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. The amount of anterior tibial translation that occurs during these exams can be difficult to assess due to a "soft" endpoint. Therefore, the objective of this study is to determine the biomechanical characteristics of the endpoint for the intact and ACL deficient knee using quantitative criteria.

Methods: Eight porcine knees were tested using a robotic testing system. An 89N anterior tibial load was applied to the intact and ACL deficient knee at 30°, 45°, 60° and 75° of flexion. The stiffness of the toe and linear regions was determined from the load-translation curve. The width of the transition region was defined by the distance between the points where the best-fit lines used to define the stiffness of the toe and linear regions diverged from the load-translation curve.

Results: Stiffness of the toe and linear regions significantly decreased after transecting the ACL at all flexion angles (71-85% and 38-62%, respectively). Width of the transition region was significantly increased in the ACL deficient knee at all flexion angles (approximately four to five times and four to nine times, respectively).

Conclusions: The novel quantitative criteria developed in this study have the potential to be deployed in clinical practice by coupling them with data from knee arthrometers that are commonly used in clinical practice. Thus, additional information from the load-translation curve can be provided to improve the diagnosis of ACL injury.

Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; Anterior tibial load; Anterior translation; End-point; Knee; Stiffness.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Femur / physiopathology
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Physical Examination
  • Robotics
  • Swine
  • Tibia / physiopathology