The biomechanical and morphological changes in the medial collateral ligament of the rabbit after immobilization and remobilization

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1987 Oct;69(8):1200-11.


The effects of immobilization and remobilization on the biomechanical and morphological properties of the femur-medial collateral ligament-tibia complex and each of its components were investigated in the rabbit. Specimens that had been obtained after periods of unilateral immobilization of the knee and remobilization were evaluated for structural properties. In addition, the mechanical properties of the substance of the medial collateral ligament and the histological characteristics of both the substance of the ligament and its sites of insertion were evaluated. After immobilization, there were significant reductions in the ultimate load and energy-absorbing capabilities of the bone-ligament complex, and an increased number of failures occurred by tibial avulsion. The tissue of the medial collateral ligament also became less stiff as a result of immobilization. Histologically, the femoral and tibial insertion sites showed increased osteoclastic activity, resorption of bone, and disruption of the normal attachment of the bone to the ligament. With remobilization, the ultimate load and energy-absorbing capabilities of the bone-ligament complex improved but did not return to normal. Failure by tibial avulsion became less frequent, and the stress-strain characteristics of the medial collateral ligament returned to normal. Histologically, the sites of insertion of the ligament also showed evidence of recovery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Immobilization
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / anatomy & histology
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Rabbits
  • Time Factors