Validation of the soft tissue restraints in a force-controlled knee simulator

M van Houtem, R Clough, A Khan, M Harrison, G W Blunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In vitro testing of total knee replacements (TKRs) is important both at the design stage and after the production of the final components. It can predict long-term in vivo wear of TKRs. The two philosophies for knee testing are to drive the motion by displacement or to drive the motion by force. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. For force control an accurate simulation of soft tissue restraints is required. This study was devised to assess the accuracy of the soft tissue restraints of the force-controlled Stanmore knee simulator in simulating the restraining forces of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). In order to do this, human cadaver knee joints were subjected to the ISO Standard Walking Cycle. The resulting kinematics were monitored when the soft tissue structures were intact, when the ACL and PCL were resected, and when they were simulated by springs positioned anteriorly and posteriorly. The stiffness of the springs was determined from the literature. Two different stiffnesses of springs were used which were 7.24 N/mm (designated as soft springs) and 33.8 N/mm (designated as hard springs). All the intact knees showed displacements that were within the range of the machine. Cutting the ACL and PCL resulted in anterior and posterior motion and internal external rotation that were significantly greater than the intact knee. Results showed that when the ACL and PCL were cut hard springs positioned anterior and posterior to the knee returned the knee to near normal anterior-posterior (AP) motion. Using hard springs in the posterior position in any condition reduced rotational displacements. Therefore using springs in a force-controlled simulator is a compromise. More accuracy may be obtained using springs that are of intermediate stiffness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-56
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Cadaver
  • Connective Tissue
  • Elasticity
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Knee Joint
  • Knee Prosthesis
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Torque
  • Walking
  • Evaluation Studies
  • Validation Studies


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