In vitro measurement of articular cartilage deformations in the intact human hip joint under load.

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Using a new roentgenographic technique for measuring cartilage deformation in intact joint specimens, twenty-eight normal human hip joints from subjects twenty-five to eighty-five years old were loaded with a force of five times body weight in a testing machine. The initial unloaded thickness of the articular cartilage of the femoral head and the changes in thickness of this cartilage under load were measured roentgenographically at seven to twelve sites on each femoral head. These measurements showed that the deformations of femiral-head articular cartilage under load in the intact joint are non-uniform and increase greatly with age. In twelve specimens measurements were also made of the increase in cartilage deformation with time when the load of five times body weight was maintained on the joint. A single osteoarthrotic joint was also studied. The experimental findings imply changes in the fundamental mechanical properties of the cartilage with age, which probably result from age-related alterations in cartilage microstructure and chemical composition.

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