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Type: Journal article
Title: The elephant knee joint: morphological and biomechanical considerations
Author: Weissengruber, G.
Fuss, F.
Egger, G.
Stanek, G.
Hittmair, K.
Forstenpointner, G.
Citation: Journal of Anatomy, 2006; 208(1):59-72
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Issue Date: 2006
ISSN: 0021-8782
Statement of
G. E. Weissengruber, F. K. Fuss, G. Egger, G. Stanek, K. M. Hittmair, G. Forstenpointner
Abstract: <jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Elephant limbs display unique morphological features which are related mainly to supporting the enormous body weight of the animal. In elephants, the knee joint plays important roles in weight bearing and locomotion, but anatomical data are sparse and lacking in functional analyses. In addition, the knee joint is affected frequently by arthrosis. Here we examined structures of the knee joint by means of standard anatomical techniques in eight African (<jats:italic>Loxodonta africana</jats:italic>) and three Asian elephants (<jats:italic>Elephas maximus</jats:italic>). Furthermore, we performed radiography in five African and two Asian elephants and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in one African elephant. Macerated bones of 11 individuals (four African, seven Asian elephants) were measured with a pair of callipers to give standardized measurements of the articular parts. In one Asian and three African elephants, kinematic and functional analyses were carried out using a digitizer and according to the helical axis concept. Some peculiarities of healthy and arthrotic knee joints of elephants were compared with human knees. In contrast to those of other quadruped mammals, the knee joint of elephants displays an extended resting position. The femorotibial joint of elephants shows a high grade of congruency and the menisci are extremely narrow and thin. The four‐bar mechanism of the cruciate ligaments exists also in the elephant. The main motion of the knee joint is extension–flexion with a range of motion of 142°. In elephants, arthrotic alterations of the knee joint can lead to injury or loss of the cranial (anterior) cruciate ligament.</jats:p>
Keywords: Elephas maximus
Loxodonta africana
cruciate ligaments
Helical axis
kinematic analysis
stifle joint
DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2006.00508.x
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Mechanical Engineering publications

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