In our research center, we have developed and utilized a novel robotic/universal force-moment sensor testing system to gain quantitative data on multiple-degree-of-freedom kinematics of the knee simultaneously with data on the in situ forces in normal and repaired soft tissues. In particular, we have investigated the complex interaction of the anteromedial and posterolateral bundles of the anterior cruciate ligament as well as several key biomechanical variables in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, such as graft selection and femoral tunnel placement (both of which impact knee stability). For example, both the bone-patellar tendon-bone and quadrupled hamstrings tendon autografts restored anterior stability but were insufficient in gaining rotatory stability. In a follow-up study, we have shown that a more laterally placed graft was beneficial and could improve these outcomes. Such findings led to additional investigation in which the biomechanical advantages of double-bundle anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction were demonstrated. However, a more laterally placed autograft at the femoral insertion of the posterolateral bundle also worked well, especially when the knee was nearly at full extension (a position in which the anterior cruciate ligament is needed most). At present, we are moving forward by obtaining in vivo kinematics data and then repeating those kinematics exactly to obtain new data with use of the robotic/universal force-moment sensor testing system in order to gain further insight regarding the function of the anterior cruciate ligament and anterior cruciate ligament replacement grafts in vivo. In parallel, we are developing a mathematical model of the knee and validating the computational model with experimental data. The combined approach will yield new and relevant information, including the stress and strain distribution in the anterior cruciate ligament and anterior cruciate ligament grafts. This will facilitate a better understanding of the function of the anterior cruciate ligament and a scientifically based design of surgical procedures and postoperative rehabilitation protocols that will lead to better patient outcomes.
1Musculoskeletal Research Center, Swanson School of Engineering, Department of Bioengineering, 405 Center for Bioengineering, 300 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. E-mail address for S.L-Y. Woo: email@example.com