The effects of strain rate on the structural properties of the femurmedial collateral ligament-tibia complex (FMTC) and on the mechanical (material) properties of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) of skeletally immature and skeletally mature rabbits were studied. The FMTCs were tested in tension to failure, at five extension rates (0.008 mm/s-113 mm/s). For the FMTCs from the skeletally immature animals, values of load, elongation, and energy absorbed at failure increased substantially with extension rates. Such increases also existed for skeletally mature animals, but they were much less in magnitude. All samples from the skeletally immature animals failed by tibial avulsion, whereas samples from the skeletally mature animals failed within the ligament substance. The mechanical properties of the ligament substance were minimally strain-rate sensitive for both groups. Histological sections of the ligament substance and insertion sites from the failed samples were examined, and these observations were correlated with the biomechanical findings. For the rabbit model used in this study, we conclude that skeletal maturity has more influence on the biomechanical properties of the MCL than does strain rate.
Keywords: Biomechanics; Ligament; Insertion sites; Age; Strain rate