Human articular cartilage biomechanics of the second metatarsal intermediate cuneiform joint

Author(s): Liu GT, Lavery LA, Schenck RC Jr, Lanctot DR, Zhu CF, et al.


Intrinsic material properties and histomorphometry of freshly frozen, human cadaveric cartilage from the second metatarsal intermediate cuneiform (SMIC) articulation were obtained to provide biomechanical mapping of the surfaces. The biphasic creep indentation methodology and an automated creep indentation apparatus were used to measure aggregate modulus, Poisson's ratio, permeability, shear modulus, and thickness. Biomechanical experiments were performed on four sites of the SMIC joint in 14 specimens (seven pairs): two sites in the second metatarsal base and two sites in the intermediate cuneiform head. Results of the study indicate that no significant variations exist in the biomechanical comparisons between specific articulations, gross articulations, and left and right joints. For example, cartilage from the second metatarsal base and intermediate cuneiform head had an aggregate modulus of 0.99 MPa and 1.05 MPa, respectively. The Poisson's ratio and permeability of all test sites grouped together were found to be 0.08 and 3.05 x 10(-15) m4/N.s, respectively. Cartilage thickness was measured at 0.61 mm. This biomechanical study suggests that similarities in cartilage properties may be beneficial in preventing the human SMIC articulation from developing early degenerative changes. Histological evaluation demonstrated that SMIC cartilage exhibits structural characteristics (such as the absence of chondrocyte columnar arrangement in the deep zone) which may be typical of cartilage that does not experience habitually high compressive stresses. This knowledge could aid surgeons in generating a deeper perspective of the relationship between clinical pathologies of articular cartilage and intrinsic biomechanical etiologies of degenerative joint diseases.

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