Influence of Ligament Properties on Tibiofemoral Mechanics in Walking

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Computational knee models provide a powerful platform to investigate the effects of injury and surgery on functional knee behavior. The objective of this study was to use a multibody knee model to investigate the influence of ligament properties on tibiofemoral kinematics and cartilage contact pressures in the stance phase of walking. The knee model included 14 ligament bundles and articular cartilage contact acting across the tibiofemoral and patellofemoral joints. The knee was incorporated into a lower extremity musculoskeletal model and was used to simulate knee mechanics during the stance phase of normal walking. A Monte Carlo approach was employed to assess the influence of ligament stiffness and reference strain on knee mechanics. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and posterior capsule properties exhibited significant influence on anterior tibial translation at heel strike, with the ACL acting as the primary restraint to anterior translation in mid-stance. The MCL and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) exhibited the greatest influence on tibial rotation from heel strike through mid-stance. Simulated tibial plateau contact location was dependent on the ACL, MCL, and LCL properties, while pressure magnitudes were most dependent on the ACL. A decrease in ACL stiffness or reference strain significantly increased the average contact pressure in mid-stance, with the pressure migrating posteriorly on the medial tibial plateau. These ligament-dependent shifts in tibiofemoral cartilage contact during walking are potentially relevant to consider when investigating the causes of early-onset osteoarthritis following knee ligament injury and surgical treatment.

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