Support of the Talus: A Biomechanical Investigation of the Contributions of the Talonavicular and Talocalcaneal Joints, and the Superomedial Calcaneonavicular Ligament

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The goal of this study was to determine the magnitude of force transmission to the talus by its inferior articulations to provide insight into mechanisms involving acquired deformities of the hindfoot. Cadaver feet were mounted in a loading apparatus that applied axial force through the tibia and fibula as well as tensile loading of the tendons of extrinsic musculature. This also permitted positioning of the tibia in the sagittal plane. Eighteen specimens were tested in three selected positions of the gait cycle. In one series, pressure-sensitive film was inserted into the posterior and anteromedial facets of the talocalcaneal joint as well as into the talonavicular joint. In a second series, film was inserted between the talar head and the superomedial calcaneonavicular ligament. In stance position, the specimens were also tested without posterior tibial tendon (PTT) tension. Contact areas and force transmitted across the articulations were greatest in near toe-off position, in the posterior facet of the talocalcaneal joint. The talonavicular joint, the anteromedial facet of the talocalcaneal joint, and the calcaneonavicular ligament articulation showed sequentially decreasing amounts of contact area and force transmission. Mean pressures were similar across all articulations, except in the posterior facet in near toe-off position. From heel-strike to stance, to near toe-off, a trend to increasing contact area and force was noted. No difference in contact characteristics was found in the calcaneonavicular ligament articulation after PTT release.

The contact force of the calcaneonavicular ligament against the talus was found to be much smaller than those of other talar articulations; however, its medially oriented direction must contribute to stabilization of the head of the talus against medial displacement. Loss of PTT tension was not found to alter the contact forces acting at the talar head in this model, which might indicate that it shares its talar stabilizing function with other structures.

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