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Biotribology of the Natural Ankle Joint

Kuganenderan, Nivedah (2018) Biotribology of the Natural Ankle Joint. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The ankle joint is a stable and congruent joint that helps to protect the joint surfaces from high impact forces. However, possible trauma to the joint such as severe ankle sprain or fracture can cause cartilage breakdown and eventually lead to cartilage degeneration, resulting in arthritis. Ankle arthritis is considered to be a major cause of morbidity and disability. Although the ankle joint is least affected by arthritis compared to knee and hip joints, the pain and lack of mobility of end stage ankle osteoarthritis (OA) are equally debilitating and tend to be overlooked compared to hip and knee OA. Differences in the incidence rates of osteoarthritis (OA) across the joints could be partly attributed to the biomechanical properties of the articular cartilage. The aim of the thesis was to improve the understanding of mechanical characteristics of the human ankle cartilage through developing and refining methodologies (i.e. indentation and thickness methods) on immature porcine ankle tissues. As porcine ankle joint seems to closely represent the human ankle with comparable anatomical features, cartilage deformation, cartilage thickness, coefficient of friction, surface roughness, contact mechanics and biological properties were also determined. Comparisons of mechanical characteristics between porcine and human tissues were reported. A methodology was developed to identify the most suitable type of specimen (osteochondral samples versus whole joints) for mechanical characterisation as specimen preparation via pin extraction was hypothesised to have an effect on the tissue quality and thus on biomechanical properties. Specimen preparation of osteochondral pins had no impact on properties as cartilage deformation and thickness measurements of pins were comparable to whole joints. Therefore, for mechanical characterisation of human ankle cartilage, osteochondral pins were studied. Porcine talar cartilage was found to be thicker, with higher surface roughness, increased water content, increased contact pressures and lower glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content compared to porcine tibial cartilage. Based on such results, the talar cartilage in the young porcine tissue (3 to 6 months) appeared more susceptible to deterioration over time when compared to tibial cartilage as these properties were considered as unfavourable potentially affecting joint function and quality of tissue during high impact forces. Overall, there were significant differences in thickness, deformation and roughness measurements (ANOVA, p<0.05 for all comparators) across the porcine and human tissues. These differences between animal and human tissues can be attributed to many factors such as age, gait, lifestyle and mechanical properties. The immature porcine cartilage was considered to be a poor representative model for tribological studies. On the human ankle joint, cartilage thicknesses, deformation and surface roughness measurements were all in a comparable range between talar and tibial joint surfaces (ANOVA, p<0.05 for all comparators). Although ankle lesions were reported to be commonly found in the talar surface rather than the tibial surface, and it was assumed to result in unfavourable properties, this was not reported in the current study as no significance was observed between both joint surfaces.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: ankle joint, biomechanical properties, cartilage, biotribology
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Mechanical Engineering (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Mechanical Engineering (Leeds) > Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE)(Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.758330
Depositing User: Miss Nivedah Kuganenderan
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2018 12:04
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22101

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