Biomechanics of the incudo-malleolar-joint – Experimental investigations for quasi-static loads

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Under large quasi-static loads, the incudo-malleolar joint (IMJ), connecting the malleus and the incus, is highly mobile. It can be classified as a mechanical filter decoupling large quasi-static motions while transferring small dynamic excitations. This is presumed to be due to the complex geometry of the joint inducing a spatial decoupling between the malleus and incus under large quasi-static loads.

Spatial Laser Doppler Vibrometer (LDV) displacement measurements on isolated malleus-incus-complexes (MICs) were performed. With the malleus firmly attached to a probe holder, the incus was excited by applying quasi-static forces at different points. For each force application point the resulting displacement was measured subsequently at different points on the incus. The location of the force application point and the LDV measurement points were calculated in a post-processing step combining the position of the LDV points with geometric data of the MIC. The rigid body motion of the incus was then calculated from the multiple displacement measurements for each force application point. The contact regions of the articular surfaces for different load configurations were calculated by applying the reconstructed motion to the geometry model of the MIC and calculate the minimal distance of the articular surfaces.

The reconstructed motion has a complex spatial characteristic and varies for different force application points. The motion changed with increasing load caused by the kinematic guidance of the articular surfaces of the joint. The IMJ permits a relative large rotation around the anterior-posterior axis through the joint when a force is applied at the lenticularis in lateral direction before impeding the motion. This is part of the decoupling of the malleus motion from the incus motion in case of large quasi-static loads.

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