The change in length of the medial and lateral collateral ligaments during in vivo knee flexion.
The collateral ligaments of the knee are important in maintaining knee stability. However, little data has been reported on the in vivo function of the collateral ligaments. The objective of this study was to investigate the change in length of different fiber bundles of the medial collateral ligament (MCL), deep fibers of the MCL (DMCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) during in vivo knee flexion. The knees of five healthy subjects were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging. These images were used to create three-dimensional models of the tibia and femur, including the insertions of the collateral ligaments. The MCL, DMCL, and LCL were each divided into three equal portions: an anterior bundle, a middle bundle and a posterior bundle. Next, the subjects were imaged from two orthogonal directions using fluoroscopy while performing a quasi-static lunge for 0 degree to 90 degrees of flexion. The models and fluoroscopic images were then used to reproduce the in vivo motion of the knee. From these models, the length of each bundle of each ligament was measured as a function of flexion. The length of the anterior bundle of the MCL did not change significantly with flexion. The length of the posterior bundle of the MCL consistently decreased with flexion (p less than 0.05). The changes in deformation of the DMCL and LCL as a function of flexion were similar to each other. The length of the anterior bundles increased with flexion and the length of the posterior bundles decreased with flexion. These data indicate that the collateral ligaments do not elongate uniformly as the knee is flexed, with different bundles becoming taut and slack. These data may help to provide a better understanding of the in vivo function of the collateral ligaments and be used to improve surgical reconstruction of the collateral ligaments. Furthermore, the data suggest that the different roles of various portions of the collateral ligaments along the flexion path should be considered before releasing the collateral ligaments during knee arthroplasty.
Park, SE; DeFrate, LE; Suggs, JF; Gill, TJ; Rubash, HE; Li, G
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