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Macro and microscopic examination of the ruptured surfaces of anterior cruciate ligaments of rabbits

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In a study combining tissue mechanics and fracture morphology for the first time, we examined the ruptured surfaces of anterior cruciate ligaments of rabbits and related their appearance to the initial loading conditions. Sixteen specimens were stretched to failure at rates of displacement of 10 and 500 mm/min. We used video images to study the changes which occurred during the fracture process and SEM to examine the appearance of the ruptured surfaces.

The surfaces of ligaments tested at 10 mm/min had more pulled-out collagen fibres and the fibres had more pronounced waviness compared with those tested at 500 mm/min. We have shown that the macroscopic appearance of ruptured ligaments can be related to their microscopic appearance and that it is possible to deduce whether failure was by gradual tearing of the fibres or catastrophic failure.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr K. J. Mathias.

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