Structural and material properties of human foot tendons

Backgrounds: The aim of this study was to assess the mechanical properties of the main balance tendons of the human foot in vitro reporting mechanical structural properties and mechanical material properties separately. Tendon structural properties are relevant for clinical applications, for example in orthopedic surgery to elect suitable replacements. Tendon material properties are important for engineering applications such as the development of refined constitutive models for computational simulation or in the design of synthetic materials.

Methods: One hundred uniaxial tensile tests were performed to obtain the mechanical response of the main intrinsic and extrinsic human foot tendons. The specimens were harvested from five frozen cadaver feet including: Extensor and Flexor tendons of all toes, Tibialis Anterior and Posterior tendons and Peroneus Brevis and Longus tendons.

Findings: Cross-sectional area, load and strain failure, Young’s modulus and ultimate tensile stress are reported as a reference of foot tendon mechanical properties. Two different behaviors could be differentiated. Tibialis and Peroneus tendons exhibited higher values of strain failure compared to Flexor and Extensor tendons which had higher Young’s modulus and ultimate tensile stress. Stress-strain tendon curves exhibited proportionality between regions. The initial strain, the toe region and the yield point corresponded to the 15, 30 and 70% of the strain failure respectively.

Interpretation: Mechanical properties of the lesser-studied human foot tendons are presented under the same test protocol for different engineering and clinical applications. The tendons that work at the inversion/eversion plane are more deformable at the same stress and strain rate than those that work at the flexion/extension plane.

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