Orientation of tendons in vivo with active and passive knee muscles

S. Aalbersberg-van Berkel, I. Kingma, J.L. Ronsky, R. Frayne, J.H. van Dieen

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    Tendon orientations in knee models are often taken from cadaver studies. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of muscle activation on tendon orientation in vivo. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images of the knee were made during relaxation and isometric knee extensions and flexions with 0°, 15° and 30° of knee joint flexion. For six tendons, the orientation angles in sagittal and frontal plane were calculated. In the sagittal plane, muscle activation pulled the patellar tendon to a more vertical orientation and the semitendinosus and sartorius tendons to a more posterior orientation. In the frontal plane, the semitendinosus had a less lateral orientation, the biceps femoris a more medial orientation and the patellar tendon less medial orientation in loaded compared to unloaded conditions. The knee joint angle also influenced the tendon orientations. In the sagittal plane, the patellar tendon had a more anterior orientation near full extension and the biceps femoris had an anterior orientation with 0° and 15° flexions and neutral with 30° flexions. Within 0° to 30° of flexion, the biceps femoris cannot produce a posterior shear force and the anterior angle of the patellar tendon is always larger than the hamstring tendons. Therefore, co-contraction of the hamstring and quadriceps is unlikely to reduce anterior shear forces in knee angles up to 30°. Finally, inter-individual variation in tendon angles was large. This suggests that the amount of shear force produced and the potential to counteract shear forces by co-contraction is subject-specific. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1780-8
    JournalJournal of Biomechanics
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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