Biomechanical properties of human articular cartilage under compressive loads

Federica Boschetti, Giancarlo Pennati, Francesca Gervaso, Giuseppe M. Peretti, Gabriele Dubini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The function of articular cartilage is to support and distribute loads and to provide lubrication in the diarthrodial joints. Cartilage function is described by proper mechanical and rheological properties, strain and depth-dependent, which are not completely assessed. Unconfined and confined compression are commonly used to evaluate the Young's modulus (E) and the aggregate modulus (HA), respectively. The Poisson's ratio (v) can be calculated indirectly from the equilibrium compression data, or using the biphasic indentation technique; it has recently been optically evaluated by using video microscopy during unconfined compression. The transient response of articular cartilage during confined compression depends on its permeability k; a constant value of k can be easily identified by a simple analytical model of confined compression tests, whereas more complex models or direct measurements (permeation tests) are needed to study the permeability dependence on deformation. A poroelastic finite element model of articular cartilage was developed for this purpose. The elastic parameters (E, v) of the model were evaluated performing unconfined compression creep tests on human articular cartilage disks, whereas k was identified from the confined test response. Our combined experimental and computational method can be used to identify the parameters that define the permeability dependence on deformation, as a function of depth from articular surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-166
Number of pages8
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Creep experiments
  • Femoral head
  • Permeability
  • Poroelastic model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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