Model for in-vivo estimation of stiffness of tibiofemoral joint using MR imaging and FEM analysis


Appropriate structural and material properties are essential for finite-element-modeling (FEM). In knee FEM, structural information could extract through 3D-imaging, but the individual subject’s tissue material properties are inaccessible.

The current study's purpose was to develop a methodology to estimate the subject-specific stiffness of the tibiofemoral joint using finite-element-analysis (FEA) and MRI data of knee joint with and without load.

In this study, six Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) datasets were acquired from 3 healthy volunteers with axially loaded and unloaded knee joint. The strain was computed from the tibiofemoral bone gap difference (ΔmBGFT) using the knee MR images with and without load. The knee FEM study was conducted using a subject-specific knee joint 3D-model and various soft-tissue stiffness values (1 to 50 MPa) to develop subject-specific stiffness versus strain models.

Less than 1.02% absolute convergence error was observed during the simulation. Subject-specific combined stiffness of weight-bearing tibiofemoral soft-tissue was estimated with mean values as 2.40 ± 0.17 MPa. Intra-subject variability has been observed during the repeat scan in 3 subjects as 0.27, 0.12, and 0.15 MPa, respectively. All subject-specific stiffness-strain relationship data was fitted well with power function (R2 = 0.997).

The current study proposed a generalized mathematical model and a methodology to estimate subject-specific stiffness of the tibiofemoral joint for FEM analysis. Such a method might enhance the efficacy of FEM in implant design optimization and biomechanics for subject-specific studies. Trial registration The institutional ethics committee (IEC), Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India, approved the study on 20th September 2017, with reference number P-019; it was a pilot study, no clinical trail registration was recommended.

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