In vitro Method to Quantify and Visualize Mechanical Wear in Human Meniscus Subjected to Joint Loading

Document Type


Publication Date



The mechanical wear and tear of soft connective tissue from repetitive joint loading is a primary factor in degenerative joint disease, and therefore methods are needed to accurately characterize wear in joint structures. Here, we evaluate the accuracy of using a structured light 3D optical scanning system and modeling software to quantify and visualize volume loss in whole human meniscus subjected to in vitro joint loading. Using 3D printed meniscus replicas with known wear volumes, we determined that this novel imaging method has a mean accuracy of approximately 13 mm3, corresponding to a mean error of less than 7% when measuring meniscal volumetric changes of 0.2 cm3 (size of a pea). The imaging method was then applied to measure the in vitro wear of whole human menisci at four time points when a single cadaveric knee was subjected to one million cycles of controlled joint loading. The medial and lateral menisci reached steady state volumetric reductions of 0.72 cm3 and 0.34 cm3 per million cycles, respectively. Colorimetric maps of linear wear depth revealed high wear and deformation in the posterior regions of both the medial and lateral menisci. For the first time, this study has developed a method to accurately characterize volume loss in whole meniscus subjected to in vitro joint loading. This 3D scanning method offers researchers a new investigative tool to study mechanical wear and joint degeneration in meniscus, and other soft connective tissues.