Geometrical changes of knee ligaments and patellar tendon during passive flexion

C. Belvedere, A. Ensini, A. Feliciangeli, F. Cenni, V. D'Angeli, S. Giannini, A. Leardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patterns of fibre elongation and orientation for the cruciate and collateral ligaments of the human knee joint and for the patellar tendon have not yet been established in three-dimensions. These patterns are essential for understanding thoroughly the contribution of these soft tissues to joint function and of value in surgical treatments for a more conscious assessment of the knee status. Measurements from 10 normal cadaver knees are here reported using an accurate surgical navigation system and consistent anatomical references, over a large flexion arc, and according to current recommended conventions. The contours of relevant sub-bundles were digitised over the corresponding origins and insertions on the bones. Representative fibres were calculated as the straight line segments joining the centroids of these attachment areas. The most isometric fibre was also taken as that whose attachment points were at the minimum change in length over the flexion arc. Changes in length and orientation of these fibres were reported versus the flexion angle. A good general repeatability of intra- and inter-specimens was found. Isometric fibres were found in the locations reported in the literature. During knee flexion, ligament sub-bundles slacken in the anterior cruciate ligament, and in the medial and lateral collateral ligaments, whereas they tighten in the posterior cruciate ligament. In each cruciate ligament the two compounding sub-bundles have different extents for the change in fibre length, and also bend differently from each other on both tibial planes. In the collateral ligaments and patellar tendon all fibres bend posteriorly. Patellar tendon underwent complex changes in length and orientation, on both the tibial sagittal and frontal planes. For the first time thorough and consistent patterns of geometrical changes are provided for the main knee ligaments and tendons after careful fibre mapping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1886-1892
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jul 26 2012


  • Fibre mapping tibio-femoral joint kinematics
  • Fibre recruitment
  • Knee ligament biomechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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