Articular cartilage surface rupture during compression: Investigating the effects of tissue hydration in relation to matrix health

JM Fick, Daniel Espino

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22 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed at investigating articular cartilage rupture by investigating the response of healthy and degenerate cartilage through altering the osmotic swelling environment of surface-intact, cartilage-on-bone specimens. The osmotic environment in healthy and degenerate bovine cartilage was varied by soaking tissues in either distilled water or 1.5 M NaCl saline to render the tissues into a swollen or dehydrated state (respectively). Creep compression was applied using an 8 mm flat-ended polished indenter that contained a central pore of 450 mu m diameter, providing a consistent region for rupture to occur across all specimens. In the first set of experiments, surface rupture of healthy and degenerate specimens required similar levels of nominal compressive stress (8 MPa) when dehydrated than when swollen (7 MPa). In the second set of experiments, the time required for surface rupture to occur (for healthy and degenerate specimens) occurred over similar loading times (p > 0.05). However, the time required for surface rupture for the swollen specimens occurred over a significantly longer time (approximately one order of magnitude) than that required for the dehydrated specimens (p <0.05). The compressive strains that were measured at rupture in the dehydrated degenerate specimens were significantly lower than those measured in the dehydrated healthy tissues (p <0.05). Rupture in dehydrated degenerate cartilage suggested a weakened articular surface, and it also suggested that dehydrated cartilage may undergo failure due to stress concentrations as it is unable to redistribute stress away from the site of loading. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1311-1317
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011


  • Surface rupture
  • Cartilage
  • Soft tissue mechanics
  • Osmotic environment


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