Acute mechanical damage and the resulting joint contact abnormalities are central to the initiation and progression of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). Study of PTOA is typically performed in vivo with replicate animals using artificially induced injury features. The goal of this work was to measure changes in a joint contact stress in the knee of a large quadruped after creation of a clinically realistic overload injury and a focal cartilage defect. Whole-joint overload was achieved by excising a 5-mm wedge of the anterior medial meniscus. Focal cartilage defects were created using a custom pneumatic impact gun specifically developed and mechanically characterized for this work. To evaluate the effect of these injuries on joint contact mechanics, Tekscan (Tekscan, Inc., South Boston, MA) measurements were obtained pre-operatively, postmeniscectomy, and postimpact (1.2-J) in a nonrandomized group of axially loaded cadaveric sheep knees. Postmeniscectomy, peak contact stress in the medial compartment is increased by 71% (p = 0.03) and contact area is decreased by 35% (p = 0.001); the center of pressure (CoP) shifted toward the cruciate ligaments in both the medial (p = 0.004) and lateral (p = 0.03) compartments. The creation of a cartilage defect did not significantly change any aspect of contact mechanics measured in the meniscectomized knee. This work characterizes the mechanical environment present in a quadrupedal animal knee joint after two methods to reproducibly induce joint injury features that lead to PTOA.

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