Contribution of articular surface geometry to ankle stabilization.
BACKGROUND: Passive ankle stability under weight-bearing conditions has been found to depend substantially on the role of the articular surface geometry. In the present study, it was hypothesized that, in the ankle under axial loading, contact-stress changes in response to alterations of external load involve reproducible and specific patterns to maintain ankle stability. METHODS: Six cadaver ankles with the peri-ankle ligaments intact were tested. Each specimen, held at several predetermined ankle positions under a primary one-body-weight axial force, was subjected to an additional secondary load. The secondary load-specifically, anterior/posterior shear force, inversion/eversion torque, or internal/external rotation torque-was applied independently, while motion associated with the two other secondary loading directions was unconstrained. Contact stress in the tibiotalar articulation was monitored by a real-time contact-stress sensor. Site-specific stress changes solely due to secondary loading at each load/position were identified by subtraction of the corresponding axial-force-only baseline distribution. The role of these stress changes in ankle stabilization was studied for each specimen by analyzing the data with a computer model of ankle geometry. RESULTS: In the cadaver experiment, anterior and posterior shear forces caused reproducible positive changes in articular contact stresses on the anterior and posterior regions, respectively. Similar changes with version torques occurred on the medial and lateral regions. Positive changes with internal/external rotation torques occurred at two diagonal locations: anterolateral and posteromedial, or anteromedial and posterolateral. In the model analysis, these stress-change patterns were found to be effective in ankle stabilization, and the levels of contribution by the articular surface were calculated as accounting for approximately 70% of anterior/posterior stability, 50% of version stability, and 30% of internal/external rotation stability. CONCLUSIONS: The documented changes in contact stress illustrate the major role of articular geometry in passive ankle stabilization. The levels of contribution by the articular surface that we calculated are consistent with those reported in the literature. These findings support the conceptual mechanism of ankle stabilization by redistribution of articular contact stress.
Tochigi, Y; Rudert, MJ; Saltzman, CL; Amendola, A; Brown, TD
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