In vivo determination of the anatomical axes of the ankle joint complex: an optimization approach

J Biomech. 1994 Dec;27(12):1477-88. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(94)90197-x.


This study investigates the feasibility of a subject-specific three-dimensional model of the ankle joint complex for kinematic and dynamic analysis of movement. The ankle joint complex was modelled as a three-segment system, connected by two ideal hinge joints: the talocrural and the subtalar joint. A mathematical formulation was developed to express the three-dimensional translation and rotation between the foot and shank segments as a function of the two joint angles, and 12 model parameters describing the locations of the joint axes. An optimization method was used to fit the model parameters to three-dimensional kinematic data of foot and shank markers, obtained during test movements throughout the entire physiological range of motion of the ankle joint. The movement of the talus segment, which cannot be measured non-invasively, is not necessary for the analysis. This optimization method was used to determine the position and orientation of the joint axes in 14 normal subjects. After optimization, the discrepancy between the best fitting model and actual marker kinematics was between 1 and 3 mm for all subjects. The predicted inclination of the subtalar joint axis from the horizontal plane was 37.4 +/- 2.7 degrees, and the medial deviation was 18.0 +/- 16.2 degrees. The lateral side of the talucrural axis was directed slightly posteriorly (6.8 +/- 8.1 degrees), and inclined downward by 7.0 +/- 5.4 degrees. These results are similar to previously reported typical results from anatomical, in vitro studies. Reproducibility was evaluated by repeated testing of one subject, which resulted in variations of about one-fifth of the standard deviation within the group, the inclination of the subtalar joint axis was significantly correlated to the arch height and a radiographic 'tarsal index'. It is concluded that this optimization method provides the opportunity to incorporate inter-individual anatomical differences into kinematic and dynamic analysis of the ankle joint complex. This allows a more functional interpretation of kinematic data, and more realistic estimates of internal forces.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Ankle Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Metatarsus / anatomy & histology
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Movement
  • Pronation
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rotation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Subtalar Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Subtalar Joint / physiology
  • Supination
  • Talus / anatomy & histology
  • Talus / physiology
  • Tarsal Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Tarsal Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology
  • Tibia / physiology
  • Video Recording