, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 256-263
Date: 17 Nov 2012

The effect of complete radial lateral meniscus posterior root tear on the knee contact mechanics: a finite element analysis

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Abstract

Background

In recent years, with technological advances in arthroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging and improved biomechanical studies of the meniscus, there has been some progress in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries to the roots of the meniscus. However, the biomechanical effect of posterior lateral meniscus root tears on the knee has not yet become clear. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a complete radial posterior lateral meniscus root tear on the knee contact mechanics and the function of the posterior meniscofemoral ligament on the knee with tear in the posterior root of lateral meniscus.

Methods

A finite element model of the knee was developed to simulate different cases for intact knee, a complete radial posterior lateral meniscus root tear, a complete radial posterior lateral meniscus root tear with posterior meniscofemoral ligament deficiency, and total meniscectomy of the lateral meniscus. A compressive load of 1000 N was applied in all cases to calculate contact areas, contact pressure, and meniscal displacements.

Results

The complete radial posterior lateral meniscus root tear decreased the contact area and increased the contact pressure on the lateral compartment under compressive load. We also found a decreased contact area and increased contact pressure in the medial compartment, but it was not obvious compared to the lateral compartment. The lateral meniscus was radially displaced by compressive load after a complete radial posterior lateral meniscus root tear, and the displacement took place mainly in the body and posterior horn of lateral meniscus. There were further decrease in contact area and increases in contact pressure and raidial displacement of the lateral meniscus in the case of the complete posterior lateral meniscus root tear in combination with posterior meniscofemoral ligament deficiency.

Conclusions

Complete radial posterior lateral meniscus root tear is not functionally equivalent to total meniscectomy. The posterior root torn lateral meniscus continues to provide some load transmission and distribution functions across the joint. The posterior meniscofemoral ligament prevents excessive radial displacement of the posterior root torn lateral meniscus and assists the torn lateral meniscus in transmitting a certain amount of stress in the lateral compartment.