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This paper is a sequel to previously published findings showing that mechanical indentation alone cannot clearly discriminate between normal and degraded articular cartilage. Consequently, the structural elasticity potential Rc = epsilon r/sigma i, which combines indentation stress sigma i with near-instantaneous rebound epsilon r following unloading, is hypothesized as a potential cartilage assessment parameter, which arguably measures the integrity of the collagen fibre-proteoglycan entrapment system. To establish the validity of our hypothesis, samples of normal intact, artificially degraded, and osteoarthritic bovine cartilage were subjected to quasi-static compression at 0.1 s(-1) and 0.025 s(-1) to 30 per cent strain and then unloaded. A significant reduction in recovery was observed for artificially and naturally degraded samples in the first 5s following unloading (p < 0.01). The structural elasticity potential provided a considerable improvement over the results obtained using the individual indentation and rebound parameters to distinguish between paired normal and artificially degraded samples and indicated a high statistical significance of p < 0.005 when applied to the differentiation of normal and osteoarthritic samples.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc inst mech eng h

Publication Date





53 - 62


Animals, Cartilage, Articular, Cattle, Computer Simulation, Elastic Modulus, Hardness, Hardness Tests, In Vitro Techniques, Male, Models, Biological, Osteoarthritis, Viscosity