Biomechanical topography of human articular cartilage in the first metatarsophalangeal joint

K. A. Athanasiou, G. T. Liu, L. A. Lavery, D. R. Lanctot, R. C. Schenck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to provide a map of cartilage biomechanical properties, thickness, and histomorphometric characteristics in the human, cadaveric first metatarsophangeal joint, to determine if normal articular cartilage was predisposed topographically to biomechanical mismatches in articulating surfaces. Cartilage intrinsic material properties and thickness were obtained from seven pairs of human, freshly frozen, cadaveric, metatarsophalangeal joints using an automated creep indentation apparatus under conditions of biphasic creep. Eight sites were tested: four on the metatarsal head, two on the proximal phalanx base, and one on each sesamoid bone to obtain the aggregate modulus, Poisson's ratio, permeability, shear modulus, and thickness. Cartilage in the lateral phalanx site of the left metatarsal head had the largest aggregate modulus (1.34 MPa), whereas the sorest tissue was found in the right medial sesamoid (0.63 MPa). The medial phalanx region of the right joint was the most permeable (4.56 x 10- 15 meter4/Newton·second), whereas the medial sesamoid articulation of the metatarsal head of the left joint was the least permeable (1.26 x 10-15 meter4/Newton·second). Material properties and thickness are indicative of the tissue's functional environment. The lack of mismatches in cartilage biomechanical properties of the articulating surfaces found in this study may be supportive of clinical observations that early degenerative changes, in the absence of traumatic events, do not occur at the selected test sites in the human first metatarsophalangeal joint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-281
Number of pages13
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - Mar 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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