Simultaneous mechanical and light microscopic studies of collagen fibers

  • A. Viidik


An apparatus that enables simultaneous stress-strain recording and morphological observation in incidental light microscopy of a specimen surface during tensile loading is described. Results from experiments on parallel-fibred collagenous specimens (tendons) are reported and variations between behavior during the first tensile loading cycle and those in the steady-state cycles (when the plasticity and irreversible viscosity are exhausted) are described. It is found that the “toe” part of the stress-strain curve is longer from a morphological point of view than can be mechanically measured, which means that the waviness of the collagenous bundles is diminished before any measurable load is applied. The steady state means an even longer such “toe” part and a better parallel arrangement of the fibers but the waviness in the relaxed specimen cannot be disturbed by repeated loadings. The functional range of a tendon is also discussed as are the phenomenon of spraining and the possibility of pre-stress.

Key words

Biomechanics Collagen Connective tissue Polarizing microscopy Tendons 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abråhams, M.: The mechanical behaviour of tendon collagen under tension in vitro. In: Digest 7th Int. Conf. Medical Biological Engineering (ed. B. Jacobson), p. 509. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell 1967a.Google Scholar
  2. Abrahams, M.: Mechanical behaviour of tendon in vitro. A preliminary report. Med. biol. Engng 5, 433–443 (1967).Google Scholar
  3. Elliott, D. H.: Structure and function of mammalian tendon. Biol. Rev. 40, 392–421 (1965).Google Scholar
  4. Elliott, D. H., Crawford, G. N. C.: The thickness and collagen content of tendon relative to the strength and cross-sectional area of muscle. Proc. roy. Soc. B 162, 137–146 (1965).Google Scholar
  5. Frisén, M., Mägi, M., Sonnerup, L., Viidik, A.: Rheological analysis of soft collagenous tissue Part I: Theoretical considerations. J. Biomech. 2, 13–20 (1969a).Google Scholar
  6. Frisén, M., Mägi, M., Sonnerup, L., Viidik, A.: Rheological analysis of soft collagenous tissue. Part II: Experimental evaluations and verifications. J. Biomech. 2, 21–28 (1969b).Google Scholar
  7. Fung, Y. C. B.: Elasticity of soft tissues in simple elongation Amer. J. Physiol. 213, 1532–1543 (1967).Google Scholar
  8. Galante, J. O.: Tensile properties of the human lumbar annulus fibrosus. Acta orthop. scand., Suppl. 100 (1967).Google Scholar
  9. Harkness, R. D.: Biological functions of collagen. Biol. Rev. 36, 399–463 (1961).Google Scholar
  10. Harkness, R. D.: Mechanical properties of collagenous tissues. In: Treatise on Collagen, vol. IIA (ed. B. S. Gould), p. 247–310. New York: Academic Press 1968.Google Scholar
  11. Laban, M. M.: Collagen tissue: Implications of its response to stress in vitro. Arch. phys. Med. 43, 461–466 (1962).Google Scholar
  12. McMaster, P. E.: Tendon and muscle ruptures. J. Bone Jt Surg. 15, 705–722 (1933).Google Scholar
  13. Rigby, B. J., Hirai, N., Spikes, J. D., Eyring, H.: The mechanical properties of rat tail tendon. J. gen. Physiol. 43, 265–283 (1959).Google Scholar
  14. Stucke, K.: Über das elastische Verhalten der Achillessehne im Belastungsversuch. Langenbecks Arch. klin. Chir. 265, 579–599 (1950).Google Scholar
  15. Viidik, A.: Biomechanics and functional adaption of tendons and joint ligaments. In: Studies on the anatomy and function of bone and joints, (ed. F. G. Evans), p. 17–39. Berlin-Heidelberg-New York: Springer 1966.Google Scholar
  16. Viidik, A.: Function and structure of collagenous tissue. Göteborg: Elanders 1968.Google Scholar
  17. Viidik, A.: Tensile strength properties of Achilles tendon systems in trained and untrained rabbits Acta orthop. scand. 40, 261–272 (1969).Google Scholar
  18. Viidik, A., Ekholm, R.: Light and electron microscopic studies of collagen fibers under strain. Z. Anat. Entwickl.-Gesch. 127, 154–164 (1968).Google Scholar
  19. Viidik, A., Lewin, T.: Changes in tensile strength characteristics and histology of rabbit ligaments induced by different modes of postmortal storage. Acta orthop. scand. 37, 141–155 (1966).Google Scholar
  20. Viidik, A., Mägi, M.: Visco-elastic properties of ligaments. In: Digest 7th Int. Conf. Medical Biological Engineering (ed. B. Jacobson), p. 507. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell 1967.Google Scholar
  21. Viidik, A., Sandqvist, L., Mägi, M.: Influence of postmortal storage on tensile strength characteristics and histology of rabbit ligaments. Acta orthop. scand., Suppl. 79 (1965).Google Scholar
  22. Wertheim, M. G.: Mémoire sur l'êlasticité, et la cohésion des principaux tissus du corps humain. Ann. Chim. Phys. 21, 385–414 (1847).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Viidik
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human AnatomyUniversity of GöteborgSweden
  2. 2.Anatomisches InstitutAarhus UniversitätAarhus CDänemark

Personalised recommendations