Finite element prediction of cartilage contact stresses in normal human hips

Michael D. Harris, Andrew E. Anderson, Corinne R. Henak, Benjamin J. Ellis, Christopher L. Peters, Jeffrey A. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Our objectives were to determine cartilage contact stress during walking, stair climbing, and descending stairs in a well-defined group of normal volunteers and to assess variations in contact stress and area among subjects and across loading scenarios. Ten volunteers without history of hip pain or disease with normal lateral center-edge angle and acetabular index were selected. Computed tomography imaging with contrast was performed on one hip. Bone and cartilage surfaces were segmented from volumetric image data, and subject-specific finite element models were constructed and analyzed using a validated protocol. Acetabular contact stress and area were determined for seven activities. Peak stress ranged from 7.52±2.11MPa for heel-strike during walking (233% BW) to 8.66±3.01MPa for heel-strike during descending stairs (261% BW). Average contact area across all activities was 34% of the surface area of the acetabular cartilage. The distribution of contact stress was highly non-uniform, and more variability occurred among subjects for a given activity than among activities for a single subject. The magnitude and area of contact stress were consistent between activities, although inter-activity shifts in contact pattern were found as the direction of loading changed. Relatively small incongruencies between the femoral and acetabular cartilage had a large effect on the contact stresses. These effects tended to persist across all simulated activities. These results demonstrate the diversity and trends in cartilage contact stress in healthy hips during activities of daily living and provide a basis for future comparisons between normal and pathologic hips.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1139
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • biomechanics
  • cartilage contact stresses
  • cartilage pressure
  • finite element
  • hip


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