The rabbit model is often used for the study of the mechanical properties of articular cartilage. In numerous cases the authors are investigating the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis. The studies have shown that the mechanical properties of articular cartilage vary across the medial and lateral compartments of the tibial plateau. A review of these data indicates numerous inconsistencies in the location dependent mechanical properties and correlations with the macroscopic and microscopic characteristics of the tissue. For example, Hoch et al. [1] and Rasanen et al. [2] document a higher equilibrium tissue modulus in the medial than the lateral compartments of the tibial plateau, using a linear elastic model of the cartilage due to Hayes et al. [3]. In contrast, a recent study by Roemhildt el al. [4] documents a lower aggregate modulus in the medial versus the lateral compartments of the plateau, based on a linear biphasic model analysis. The study also documents a lower Poisson’s ratio in the medial than lateral facets, while more surface fissuring is noted in the medial compartment. While this surface morphology explains a higher permeability of the tissue in the medial than lateral compartments, the data are inconsistent with a notion set forth by Kiviranta et al. [5]. Using a fibril reinforced biphasic model analysis, this study would suggest a less structurally intact collagen network in the cartilage would yield a higher Poisson’s ratio in the medial than lateral compartments. These various inconsistencies in mechanical properties across the tibial plateau may be, in part, due to limitations of each computational model. The hypothesis of the current study is that a more structurally-based fibril-reinforced, biphasic model analysis of the rabbit cartilage will correlate better with the macroscopic and microscopic aspects of the tissue across the tibial plateau.

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