Effects of osteochondral defect size on cartilage contact stress

Thomas D. Brown, David F. Pope, Joseph E. Hale, Joseph A. Buckwalter, Richard A. Brand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Contact stress distributions were studied in vitro for 13 dog knees, with full‐thickness osteochondral defects drilled in the weight‐bearing area of both femoral condyles. Diameters of the circular defects were concentrically enlarged from 1 to 7 mm. Digitally‐imaged Fuji film was used to record cartilage contact stress distribution on femoral condyles for each increment of defect diameter. All specimens showed at least some tendency for contact stress concentration at the rim of the defects. However, detailed distributions had large interspecimen variability and, within a given specimen, contact stress distributions became progressively more nonuniform around the defect rim as the diameter was enlarged. Averaged over the full series of 26 condyles, circumferential mean cartilage contact stress around the defect rim was only moderately higher (by 10–30%) than intact surface's peak local contact stress [series average = 6.2 mega pascals (MPa)]. Maximal rim stress concentration occurred for 2 mm defects, there being a consistent trend toward mild rim stress decrease with further defect enlargement. Such modest contact stress elevations, per se, are probably insufficient to inhibit defect repair or to cause degeneration of surrounding cartilage. However, near the defect rim (for all diameters), the radial component of the gradient of contact stress (i.e., radialdirection variation of contact stress) was consistently elevated by an order of magnitude above that for intact, condyle articular cartilage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-567
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1991


  • Cartilage healing
  • Cartilage repair
  • Contact stress
  • Osteochondral defect


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of osteochondral defect size on cartilage contact stress'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this