Evaluation of a computational model used to predict the patellofemoral contact pressure distribution

John J. Elias, David R. Wilson, Robert Adamson, Andrew J. Cosgarea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One possible cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome is excessive lateral force acting on the patella. Although several treatment methods focus on decreasing the lateral force acting on the patella, the relationship between the lateral force and the patellofemoral contact pressure distribution is unclear. A computational model has been developed to determine how loading variations alter the patellofemoral force and pressure distributions for individual knees. The model allows variation in the quadriceps and patella tendon forces, and calculates the predicted contact pressure distribution using the discrete element analysis technique. To characterize the accuracy of the model, four cadaver knees were flexed on a knee simulator with three initial Q-angles, while recording the force and pressure distributions with a pressure sensor. A model of each knee was created from CT data. Using the external force applied to the knee, the geometry of the knee, and the quadriceps origin as input, the pressure distribution was calculated during flexion. Similar trends were noted for the computational and experimental results. The percentage of the total force applied to the lateral cartilage increased with the Q-angle. The maximum contact pressure increased during flexion. The maximum lateral contact pressure increased with the Q-angle for three knees. For the other knee, increasing the Q-angle decreased the maximum lateral pressure. The maximum medial contact pressure decreased as the Q-angle increased. By characterizing the influence of patellofemoral loading on the force and pressure distributions, the computational model could be used to evaluate treatment methods prescribed for patellofemoral pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Cartilage
  • Model
  • Patellofemoral joint
  • Pressure
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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