Finite Element Modeling of Knee Joint to Study Tibio-Femoral Contact Machanics
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Articular cartilage covers the articulating ends of diarthrodial joints. It plays a vital role in the function of the musculoskeletal system by allowing almost frictionless motion to occur between the articular surfaces of a diarthrodial joint. Study of cartilage contact behavior will help to understand the intrinsic biomechanical properties related to cartilage degeneration and related pathology. In order to study the mechanical behavior of the cartilage a FEM based computational model of the knee-joint was developed from MRI data. A heuristic algorithm was developed based on Image processing techniques using Evolve2D toolbox and edge detection. An indigenous path following algorithm to capture minute details of bone and soft tissue curvature was developed using Image Processing Toolbox of Matlab. Parts including femur, tibia, femoral and tibial cartilages, lateral & medial menisci were extracted as a point cloud from each of the slices and rendered into a 3D model using GUI driven CAD package RHINOCEROS 4.0. Commercial FE software HYPERMESH 9.0 was used to develop FE model from geometric model. Cartilage and Menisci were modeled using eight node hexahedral elements and bones were modeled using four node quadrilateral elements. Bones were assumed to be rigid. Cartilage and menisci were assumed to be linearly elastic, isotropic and homogenous. The knee joint was subjected to a uniaxial compressive load with tibia remaining fixed and femur subjected to two primary boundary conditions: 1.Flexion - extension and Varus - Valgus rotation constrained; 2.Only Varus - Valgus rotation constrained. Parameters such as contact area, contact pressure, contact force, centre of contact pressure, mises stress distribution; maximum and minimum principal stresses were studied at maximum compressive load condition and also in intermittent steps. This model considered both geometric and contact non-linearity. From the FE analysis, it was observed that peak contact deformation and contact area on both femoral and tibial medial cartilage was found to be greater than the lateral side under full extension condition. More than 50% of the load transmission was through the medial side - which could be an indication of cartilage degeneration. Deformation of lateral meniscus was more than the medial meniscus under angular constrained conditions. Loading history during intermittent steps suggested that contact area on lateral tibial cartilage increased with load, indicating joint asymmetry. These results indicate the importance of the rotational constraints (boundary conditions) and represent more accurate physiological behavior of knee joint. Role of menisci in this study was analyzed, which indicated that consideration of menisci is essential in biomechanical estimation of load transmission. In conclusion, detailed segmentation to develop geometric model, precise boundary conditions & time dependent behavior of cartilage and menisci helped in understanding knee joint load bearing capacity to a better accuracy and can potentially give rise to designing better cartilage implants.
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