View Full Version : Re: Knee axis of rotation

Brandie Wilde
08-26-2002, 03:58 AM
This question was posted a few months ago. Sorry it took a while to put
the responses together. Thank you to all who replied.

I am presently researching the rotation axis of the human knee. Due to
the various forces acting on the knee (i.e. tendons, muscles, ligaments
Etc.) from loaded and unloaded motion as well as relatively unknown
geometrics of this joint, it seems to be a difficult task to determine the
presumed changing center of rotation. I was wondering if anyone knows of or
has done such a study on this issue. Enlightenment would be great thanks!

Hi Brandie,

You might want to look at the work Doug Dennis and Rick Komistek are

Perhaps you'll find some necessary data in
O'Connor J., T. Shercliff, D. FitzPatrick, J. Bradley, D.M. Daniel, E.
Biden, J.
Goodfellow. Geometry of the knee// Knee Ligaments: structure, function,
injury, and repair/ edited by D. Daniel, et al., 1990; pp. 163-199.
I've developed quite good computer model of the human knee. It is possible
to determine the center of rotation using that model, but it was not in the
scope of my dissertation.
Ilya Ilyin
Ph.D., Department of Biomechanics and Valeology,
St.Petersburg State Technical University,
St. Petersburg, Russia.
Our group at the University of Calgary (Human Performance Lab) has done
some work determining the knee joint centre/axis of rotation for the
purposes of measuring muscle tendon moment arms for a knee joint model.
This study was part of my master's thesis. We used motion analysis of the
thigh and shank during a flexion-extension motion to calculate an
instantaneous helical axis to represent the axis of rotation of the knee.
We also collected magnetic resonance images of the knees of the same
subjects with the skin-mounted markers still in place. Using coordinate
transformations we related the helical axis position (determined from
kinematics) to the internal knee joint structures (from the MR images).
Our model of the knee joint is a 2D one at present, so we reduced the
helical axis to a point in the sagittal plane for the purposes of
measuring muscle moment arms.

This study was done on four subjects only as a preliminary study. The
results are specific to each subject tested, so I don't have any
generalized results that could be used to describe all human knee joints.
We also expect that this joint axis of rotation would be very different in
the case of a knee injury, such as an ACL-rupture, since it is based on
knee kinematics.

The methods for my study were based on a similar study in the cat knee.
Here is the reference if you are interested:
Boyd SK, Ronsky JL, 1998. Instantaneous moment arm determination of the
cat knee. Journal of Biomechanics, 31, 279-283.

Let me know if you want to know more about this study.

Nicole Baker

Maybe you also want to have a look at these (recent) references:

Karrholm J, Brandsson S, Freeman MA. Related Articles
Tibiofemoral movement 4: changes of axial tibial rotation caused by forced
rotation at the weight-bearing knee studied by RSA.
J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2000 Nov;82(8):1201-3.

Nakagawa S, Kadoya Y, Todo S, Kobayashi A, Sakamoto H, Freeman MA, Yamano Y.
Related Articles Tibiofemoral movement 3: full flexion in the living knee
studied by MRI.
J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2000 Nov;82(8):1199-200.

Hill PF, Vedi V, Williams A, Iwaki H, Pinskerova V, Freeman MA. Related
Articles Tibiofemoral movement 2: the loaded and unloaded living knee
studied by MRI.
J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2000 Nov;82(8):1196-8.

Iwaki H, Pinskerova V, Freeman MA. Related Articles
Tibiofemoral movement 1: the shapes and relative movements of the femur and
tibia in the unloaded cadaver knee.
J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2000 Nov;82(8):1189-95.

Hope this helps,
Christoph Reinschmidt
Dear Brandie

I am really wanted to help you but as you mention it is not a simple joint
and you must consider that knee joint has not only one axis andit rotates in
some differents axis due to the direction and power of the force and the
point that the force enter. So I suggest to you (I must mention to you that
it is my idea and I don't have special practical experience in this field)
to divide ur research to some different part and then u can work easily on
each part and at the end u can remodeling all of ur results. I mean it is
important to determine every force and every rotation and then u must find
the average. Another solution is to select 5 different force with the same
power and in one surface and then find the axis of rotation. It helps u to
find the axis in every surface. Oh pls forgive me I must go because my
patients are waiting for me. I will write to you later.

Dr. ali Mohammadi Rad

Nordin and Frankel (Biomechanics of the Musculoskeletal System) have good
review information, as well references to scientific literature, on the
instantaneous centre of rotation for the knee. I have a copy here at the
University of Lethbridge, but I would guess you can round up a copy in
Calgary as well.

Good luck
Dear Ms. Brandie Wilde,

- Dr. Luciano Menegaldo
"Determining the instantaneous rotation axis of the knee through a
musculoskeletal modeling
software (SIMM)".

- "Multifactorial estimation of hip and knee joint centres for clinical
application of gait
C. Frigo, M. Rabuffetti
Gait and Posture 8 (1988) 91 102

- "The influence of muscles on knee flexion during the swing phase of gait"
Stephen J. Piazza and Scott L. Delp
Journal of Biomechanics, Vol 29, nr.6, pp. 723-733, 1996

Best Regards,

Wagner de Godoy
Gait Laboratory
AACD - Associação de Assistência à Criança Deficiente
Disabled Children Care Association
Hi there

One of our former graduate students here at Dal, Amy Kwok, did her
master's thesis on examining changes in the axis of rotation of the knee
using cadaveric knees and 2D videographic techniques. I am not sure how to
get in touch with her (she now works in Ontario I believe) but her advisor
was Dr John Kozey , and he may be able to either fill
you in on her research or get you in touch with her.

Steve LeBlanc MSc
Instructor, School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University
Email: Steve.LeBlanc@dal.ca Webpage: http://is2.dal.ca/~zeppo/
Hi Brandie, there are some great works by V.Pinskerova. I think his/her
research works mainly corcern with knee kinematic.
One of these reference could be:

Pinskerova V et al., Tibiofemoral movement – Studies in the cadaveric and
living knee using MRI, dissection and RSA, JBJS, vol 82-B n°8, 2000

I hope this could be useful!
Paolo (Italy)

There is a large body of research on this subject. Try searching medline and
look for instantaneous screw axes (ISA) or finite helical axes. You should
find more than enough.

I am a little out of touch with this field, but from the top of my
head I suggest that you should look for research by Ann Hollister and Mark

Charanpreet S. Bagga
Senior Director of Design and Development
Orthovita, Inc.
Contact Serge Van Sint Jan : sintjans@ulb.ac.be

Gordon Clapworthy

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