Knee ligaments and tendons play an important role in stabilizing and controlling the motions of the knee. Injuries to the ligaments can lead to abnormal mechanical loading of the other supporting tissues (e.g., cartilage and meniscus) and even osteoarthritis. While the condition of knee ligaments can be examined during arthroscopic repair procedures, the arthroscopic evaluation suffers from subjectivity and poor repeatability. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is capable of non-destructively quantifying the composition and structure of collagen-rich connective tissues, such as articular cartilage and meniscus. Despite the similarities, NIRS-based evaluation of ligament composition has not been previously attempted. In this study, ligaments and patellar tendon of ten bovine stifle joints were measured with NIRS, followed by chemical and histological reference analysis. The relationship between the reference properties of the tissue and NIR spectra was investigated using partial least squares regression. NIRS was found to be sensitive towards the water (R2CV = .65) and collagen (R2CV = .57) contents, while elastin, proteoglycans, and the internal crimp structure remained undetectable. As collagen largely determines the mechanical response of ligaments, we conclude that NIRS demonstrates potential for quantitative evaluation of knee ligaments.
- Jufo-taso 1
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