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Research Papers

J Biomech Eng. 2017;139(4):041001-041001-8. doi:10.1115/1.4035471.

Contact force imbalance and contact kinematics (i.e., motion of the contact location in each compartment during flexion) of the tibiofemoral joint are both important predictors of a patient's outcome following total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Previous tibial force sensors have limitations in that they either did not determine contact forces and contact locations independently in the medial and lateral compartments or only did so within restricted areas of the tibial insert, which prevented them from thoroughly evaluating contact force imbalance and contact kinematics in vitro. Accordingly, the primary objective of this study was to present the design and verification of an improved tibial force sensor which overcomes these limitations. The improved tibial force sensor consists of a modified tibial baseplate which houses independent medial and lateral arrays of three custom tension–compression transducers each. This sensor is interchangeable with a standard tibial component because it accommodates tibial articular surface inserts with a range of sizes and thicknesses. This sensor was verified by applying known loads at known locations over the entire surface of the tibial insert to determine the errors in the computed contact force and contact location in each compartment. The root-mean-square errors (RMSEs) in contact force are ≤ 6.1 N which is 1.4% of the 450 N full-scale output. The RMSEs in contact location are ≤ 1.6 mm. This improved tibial force sensor overcomes the limitations of the previous sensors and therefore should be useful for in vitro evaluation of new alignment goals, new surgical techniques, and new component designs in TKA.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2017;139(4):041002-041002-11. doi:10.1115/1.4035916.

The important factors that affect the arterial wall compliance are the tissue properties of the arterial wall, the in vivo pulsatile pressure, and the prestressed condition of the artery. It is necessary to obtain the load-free geometry for determining the physiological level of prestress in the arterial wall. The previously developed optimization-based inverse algorithm was improved to obtain the load-free geometry and the wall prestress of an idealized tapered femoral artery of a dog under varying arterial wall properties. The compliance of the artery was also evaluated over a range of systemic pressures (72.5–140.7 mmHg), associated blood flows, and artery wall properties using the prestressed arterial geometry. The results showed that the computed load-free outer diameter at the inlet of the tapered artery was 6.7%, 9.0%, and 12% smaller than the corresponding in vivo diameter for the 25% softer, baseline, and 25% stiffer arterial wall properties, respectively. In contrast, the variations in the prestressed geometry and circumferential wall prestress were less than 2% for variable arterial wall properties. The computed compliance at the inlet of the prestressed artery for the baseline arterial wall property was 0.34%, 0.19%, and 0.13% diameter change/mmHg for time-averaged pressures of 72.5, 104.1, and 140.7 mmHg, respectively. However, the variation in compliance due to the change in arterial wall property was less than 6%. The load-free and prestressed geometries of the idealized tapered femoral artery were accurately (error within 1.2% of the in vivo geometry) computed under variable arterial wall properties using the modified inverse algorithm. Based on the blood-arterial wall interaction results, the arterial wall compliance was influenced significantly by the change in average pressure. In contrast, the change in arterial wall property did not influence the arterial wall compliance.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Technical Brief

J Biomech Eng. 2017;139(4):044501-044501-6. doi:10.1115/1.4035551.

The availability of diverse mouse models is revealing increasingly greater information on arterial mechanics, including homeostatic adaptations and pathologic maladaptations to genetic, pharmacological, and surgical manipulations. Fundamental to understanding such biomechanical changes, however, is reliable information on appropriate control vessels. In this paper, we contrast 15 different geometrical and mechanical metrics of biaxial wall mechanics for the ascending aorta across seven different types of possible control mice. We show that there is a comforting similarity across these multiple controls for most, though not all, metrics. In particular, three potential controls, namely, noninduced conditional mice, exhibit higher values of distensibility, an important clinical metric of structural stiffness, and two of these potential controls also have higher values of intrinsic circumferential material stiffness. There is motivation, therefore, to understand better the biomechanical changes that can arise with noninduced Cre-lox or similar approaches for generating mutations conditionally. In cases of germline mutations generated by breeding heterozygous +/− mice, however, the resulting homozygous +/+ mice tend to exhibit properties similar to traditional (C57BL/6) controls.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2017;139(4):044502-044502-7. doi:10.1115/1.4035536.

The elasticity of soft biological materials is a critical property to understand their biomechanical behaviors. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) indentation method has been widely employed to measure the Young's modulus (E) of such materials. Although the accuracy of the method has been recently evaluated based on comparisons with macroscale E measurements, the repeatability of the method has yet to be validated for rigorous biomechanical studies of soft elastic materials. We tested the AFM indentation method using colloidal probes and polyacrylamide (PAAM) gels of E < 20 kPa as a model soft elastic material after having identified optimal trigger force and probe speed. AFM indentations repeated with time intervals show that the method is well repeatable when performed carefully. Compared with the rheometric method and the confocal microscopy indentation method, the AFM indentation method is evaluated to have comparable accuracy and better precision, although these elasticity measurements appear to rely on the compositions of PAAM gels and the length scale of measurement. Therefore, we have confirmed that the AFM indentation method can reliably measure the elasticity of soft elastic materials.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2017;139(4):044503-044503-7. doi:10.1115/1.4034708.

The choice of marker set is a source of variability in motion analysis. Studies exist which assess the performance of marker sets when direct kinematics is used, but these results cannot be extrapolated to the inverse kinematic framework. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the sensitivity of kinematic outcomes to inter-marker set variability in an inverse kinematic framework. The compared marker sets were plug-in-gait, University of Ottawa motion analysis model and a three-marker-cluster marker set. Walking trials of 12 participants were processed in opensim. The coefficient of multiple correlations was very good for sagittal (>0.99) and transverse (>0.92) plane angles, but worsened for the transverse plane (0.72). Absolute reliability indices are also provided for comparison among studies: minimum detectable change values ranged from 3 deg for the hip sagittal range of motion to 16.6 deg of the hip transverse range of motion. Ranges of motion of hip and knee abduction/adduction angles and hip and ankle rotations were significantly different among the three marker configurations (P < 0.001), with plug-in-gait producing larger ranges of motion. Although the same model was used for all the marker sets, the resulting minimum detectable changes were high and clinically relevant, which warns for caution when comparing studies that use different marker configurations, especially if they differ in the joint-defining markers.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Design Innovation Paper

J Biomech Eng. 2017;139(4):045001-045001-12. doi:10.1115/1.4035917.

A set of protocols was created to characterize prosthetic liners across six clinically relevant material properties. Properties included compressive elasticity, shear elasticity, tensile elasticity, volumetric elasticity, coefficient of friction (CoF), and thermal conductivity. Eighteen prosthetic liners representing the diverse range of commercial products were evaluated to create test procedures that maximized repeatability, minimized error, and provided clinically meaningful results. Shear and tensile elasticity test designs were augmented with finite element analysis (FEA) to optimize specimen geometries. Results showed that because of the wide range of available liner products, the compressive elasticity and tensile elasticity tests required two test maxima; samples were tested until they met either a strain-based or a stress-based maximum, whichever was reached first. The shear and tensile elasticity tests required that no cyclic conditioning be conducted because of limited endurance of the mounting adhesive with some liner materials. The coefficient of friction test was based on dynamic coefficient of friction, as it proved to be a more reliable measurement than static coefficient of friction. The volumetric elasticity test required that air be released beneath samples in the test chamber before testing. The thermal conductivity test best reflected the clinical environment when thermal grease was omitted and when liner samples were placed under pressure consistent with load bearing conditions. The developed procedures provide a standardized approach for evaluating liner products in the prosthetics industry. Test results can be used to improve clinical selection of liners for individual patients and guide development of new liner products.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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