The in situ mechanical conditions of cartilage in the articulated knee were quantified during joint loading. Six porcine knees were subjected to a 445 N compressive load while cartilage deformations and contact pressures were measured. From roentgenograms, cartilage thickness before and during loading allowed the calculation of tissue deformation on the lateral femoral condyle at different times during the loading process. Contact pressures on the articular surface were measured with miniature fiber-optic pressure transducers. Results showed that the medial side of the lateral femoral condyle had higher contact pressures, as well as deformations. To begin to correlate the pressures and resulting deformations, the intrinsic material properties of the cartilage on the lateral condyle were obtained from indentation tests. Data from four normal control specimens indicated that the aggregate modulus of the medial side was significantly higher than in other areas of the condyle. These experimental measures of the in situ mechanical conditions of articular cartilage can be combined with theoretical modeling to obtain valuable information about the relative contributions of the solid and fluid phases to supporting the applied load on the cartilage surface (see Part II).

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