Full biomechanical mapping of the ovine knee joint to determine creep-recovery, stiffness and thickness variation

Iris Pflieger, Josef Stolberg-Stolberg, Peter Foehr, Lara Kuntz, Jutta Tübel, Christian U. Grosse, Rainer Burgkart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Clinical cartilage repair strategies can be tested using the sheep model as suggest by the European Medicines Agency. To characterize variation within the joint a full biomechanical mapping is necessary. The aim of this study is to establish a loading model, to map regional differences within the knee and determine reference areas for area specific replacement techniques. Methods: A porous indenter was selected to evaluate 22 defined test locations (femoral condyles, tibia plateau, patella, femoral groove) on ovine knees (n = 7). A high-dynamic force-controlled micro creep and creep-recovery indentation test system applied five loading (0.11 MPa) and unloading (5.6 kPa) cycles for 60 s each and recorded creep-recovery. Needle indentation was used to measure cartilage thickness and calculate total strain. Findings: Steady state behaviour was observed from the third cycle and further evaluated. Little variation of stiffness in N/mm was found within the patella (4.3SD0.5) and femoral groove (8.1SD0.7) compared to larger variations in the femur (7.9SD2.0) and tibia (7.5SD3.2). Creep indentation showed values of 14.5%(SD2.7%) for the patella and 17.4%(SD3%) for the femoral grove opposed to 13.4%(SD4.3%) for the femoral condyles and 21.8%(SD6.6%) for the tibia plateau. Similar trends were observed analysing creep-recovery. Values were normalized to cartilage thickness which ranged between 0.36 mm and 1.14 mm. Interpretation: Our setup allows a reliable evaluation of zonal differences. Homogenous biomechanical behaviour is found within the patella and femoral groove whereas significant biomechanical variation within the femoral condyles and tibia plateau indicates the need for site-specific cartilage repair products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Biomechanics
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Articular cartilage
  • Creep-recovery
  • Indentation
  • Knee joint
  • Mapping
  • Sheep model
  • Stiffness
  • Thickness


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