Open Access Technical Note

Use of embedded strain gages for the in-vitro study of proximal tibial cancellous bone deformation during knee flexion-extension movement: development, reproducibility and preliminary results of feasibility after frontal low femoral osteotomy

Stéphane Sobczak1*, Patrick Salvia1, Pierre-Michel Dugailly2, Philippe Lefèvre2, Véronique Feipel2, Serge Van Sint Jan1 and Marcel Rooze123

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Anatomy, Biomechanics and Organogenesis (LABO) (CP 619), Faculty of Medicine, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Bruxelles, Belgium

2 Laboratory for Functional Anatomy, Institute for Motor Sciences, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Bruxelles, Belgium

3 Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, Cliniques Universitaires de Bruxelles, Hôpital Erasme, Brussels, Belgium

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2011, 6:12  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-6-12

Published: 3 March 2011



This paper reports the development of an in-vitro technique allowing quantification of relative (not absolute) deformations measured at the level of the cancellous bone of the tibial proximal epiphysis (CBTPE) during knee flexion-extension. This method has been developed to allow a future study of the effects of low femoral osteotomies consequence on the CBTPE.


Six strain gages were encapsulated in an epoxy resin solution to form, after resin polymerisation, six measurement elements (ME). The latter were inserted into the CBTPE of six unembalmed specimens, just below the tibial plateau. Knee motion data were collected by three-dimensional (3D) electrogoniometry during several cycles of knee flexion-extension. Intra- and inter-observer reproducibility was estimated on one specimen for all MEs. Intra-specimen repeatability was calculated to determine specimen's variability and the error of measurement. A varum and valgum chirurgical procedure was realised on another specimen to observed CBTPE deformation after these kind of procedure.


Average intra-observer variation of the deformation ranged from 8% to 9% (mean coefficient of variation, MCV) respectively for extension and flexion movement. The coefficient of multiple correlations (CMC) ranged from 0.93 to 0.96 for flexion and extension. No phase shift of maximum strain peaks was observed. Inter-observer MCV averaged 23% and 28% for flexion and extension. The CMC were 0.82 and 0.87 respectively for extension and flexion. For the intra-specimen repeatability, the average of mean RMS difference and the mean ICC were calculated only for flexion movement. The mean RMS variability ranged from 7 to 10% and the mean ICC was 0.98 (0.95 - 0.99). A Pearson's correlation coefficient was calculated showing that RMS was independent of signal intensity. For the chirurgical procedure, valgum and varum deviation seems be in agree with the frontal misalignment theory.


Results show that the methodology is reproducible within a range of 10%. This method has been developed to allow analysis the indirect reflect of deformation variations in CBTPE before and after distal femoral osteotomies. The first results of the valgum and varum deformation show that our methodology allows this kind of measurement and are encourageant for latter studies. It will therefore allow quantification and enhance the understanding of the effects of this kind of surgery on the CBTPE loading.