Discrete element analysis for characterizing the patellofemoral pressure distribution: Model evaluation

John J. Elias, Archana Saranathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The current study was performed to evaluate the accuracy of computational assessment of the influence of the orientation of the patellar tendon on the patellofemoral pressure distribution. Computational models were created to represent eight knees previously tested at 40 deg, 60 deg, and 80 deg of flexion to evaluate the influence of hamstrings loading on the patellofemoral pressure distribution. Hamstrings loading increased the lateral and posterior orientation of the patellar tendon, with the change for each test determined from experimentally measured variations in tibiofemoral alignment. The patellar tendon and the cartilage on the femur and patella were represented with springs. After loading the quadriceps, the total potential energy was minimized to determine the force within the patellar tendon. The forces applied by the quadriceps and patellar tendon produced patellar translation and rotation. The deformation of each cartilage spring was determined from overlap of the cartilage surfaces on the femur and patella and related to force using linear elastic theory. The patella was iteratively adjusted until the extension moment, tilt moment, compression, and lateral force acting on the patella were in equilibrium. For the maximum pressure applied to lateral cartilage and the ratio of the lateral compression to the total compression, paired t-tests were performed at each flexion angle to determine if the output varied significantly (p < 0.05) between the two loading conditions. For both the computational and experimental data, loading the hamstrings significantly increased the lateral force ratio and the maximum lateral pressure at multiple flexion angles. For the computational data, loading the hamstrings increased the average lateral force ratio and maximum lateral pressure by approximately 0.04 and 0.3 MPa, respectively, compared to experimental increases of 0.06 and 0.4 MPa, respectively. The computational modeling technique accurately characterized variations in the patellofemoral pressure distribution caused by altering the orientation of the patellar tendon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number081011
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cartilage
  • Computational model
  • Patellar tendon
  • Patellofemoral joint
  • Pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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