Dynamic elongation behavior in the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments during lateral impact loading

J Orthop Res. 1993 Mar;11(2):190-8. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100110206.


The objectives of this experimental study were to determine (a) how quickly the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) elongate when a lateral impact force is imparted to the knee and if a person can react rapidly enough to provide protective muscle forces in the case of such an impact, (b) if the MCL and the ACL elongate simultaneously during a lateral impact, and (c) if resection of the ACL affects elongation of the MCL during a lateral impact. Eight whole-leg cadaver specimens were used. Each leg was mounted vertically in a testing-frame with the knee in 0 and 30 degrees of flexion. A submaximal impact was delivered from the lateral side by a pendulum instrumented with a force transducer. Elongation of the midsubstance of the MCL and the ACL was measured with Hall-effect displacement transducers. The ACL was resected and the entire test sequence was repeated. Following a lateral impact, elongation of the MCL and ACL reached peak values by 70 ms. This study indicated that contraction of the leg musculature would not protect the MCL and ACL from injury when a lateral impact load is applied to the knee. The MCL and the ACL never elongated simultaneously during a lateral impact. After lateral impact loading, the time required to reach maximum elongation (peak delay) averaged 52 ms in the anterior MCL fibers and 61 ms in the ACL when the knee was in 0 degrees of flexion. At 30 degrees of flexion, the peak delay averaged 38 ms in the anterior MCL fibers and 22 ms in the ACL.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology