Although the rabbit hindlimb has been commonly used as an experimental animal model for studies of osteoarthritis, bone growth and fracture healing, the in vivo biomechanics of the rabbit knee joint have not been quantified. The purpose of this study was to investigate the kinematic and kinetic patterns during hopping of the adult rabbit, and to develop a model to estimate the joint contact force distribution between the tibial plateaus. Force platform data and three-dimensional motion analysis using infrared markers mounted on intracortical bone pins were combined to calculate the knee and ankle joint intersegmental forces and moments. A statically determinate model was developed to predict muscle, ligament and tibiofemoral joint contact forces during the stance phase of hopping. Variations in hindlimb kinematics permitted the identification of two landing patterns, that could be distinguished by variations in the magnitude of the external knee abduction moment. During hopping, the prevalence of an external abduction moment led to the prediction of higher joint contact forces passing through the lateral compartment as compared to the medial compartment of the knee joint. These results represent critical data on the in vivo biomechanics of the rabbit knee joint, which allow for comparisons to both other experimental animal models and the human knee, and may provide further insight into the relationships between mechanical loading, osteoarthritis, bone growth, and fracture healing.
Previously published in Journal of Orthopedic Research 23(4):735-42, 2005. Posted with permission. http://www.ors.org/journal-of-orthopaedic-research/