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Gender-specific in vivo measurement of the structural and mechanical properties of the human patellar tendon.

Onambélé, Gladys N.L.; Burgess, Katherine; Pearson, Stephen J.


Gladys N.L. Onambélé

Stephen J. Pearson


Human patellar tendon stress (σ), strain (ε), stiffness (K), and tensile or Young's modulus (E), are determined in vivo through voluntary isometric contractions monitored with B-mode ultrasonography. The limitations in previous studies are: (1) they have generally not accounted for the fact that the distal attachment of the patellar tendon (the tibial tuberosity) also displaces; thus, they have underestimated ε (and, hence, injury risk) while overestimating K; (2) no gender effect has been studied despite the fact that females are seen to have higher incidences of tendon-related injuries. The current investigation therefore aimed to determine the gender specific values of σ, ε, K, and E of the patellar tendon while also accounting for distal displacement of the patellar tendon. Healthy young males (aged 23.1 ± 1.3 years, n = 10) and females (aged 21.3 ± 0.9 years, n = 10) were tested. The maximal ε of the young males was ~5-10% higher than that reported in earlier literature. Average female versus male values for ε, σ, K, and E, taken at the same force level as the males for comparison purposes, were respectively 10.6 ± 1.0 versus 9.0 ± 1.0%, 36.9 ± 1.4 versus 28.9 ± 0.9 MPa, 1053 ± 108 versus 1652 ± 216 N·mm-1, and 0.61 ± 0.08 versus 0.68 ± 0.10 GPa (p < 0.05). There are gender differences in tendon structural and mechanical properties. The current methodology may be useful in a clinical context where early prediction of injury risk and/or monitoring of reconstructed tendon needs to be an accurate, objective, and reliable method if optimal functionality is to be achieved.


ONAMBÉLÉ, G.N.L., BURGESS, K. and PEARSON, S.J. 2007. Gender-specific in vivo measurement of the structural and mechanical properties of the human patellar tendon. Journal of orthopaedic research [online], 25(12), page 1635-1642. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 8, 2007
Online Publication Date Jun 13, 2007
Publication Date Dec 31, 2007
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 16, 2024
Journal Journal of orthopaedic research
Print ISSN 0736-0266
Electronic ISSN 1554-527X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 12
Pages 1635-1642
Keywords Gender; Human patellar tendon; Mechanical properties
Public URL
Additional Information An erratum, available from, was published in the same issue of the journal for this article, and reads "The address for the corresponding author, Gladys N.L. Onambélé, should read: Department of Exercise & Sport Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hassall Road, Alsager ST7 2HL, United Kingdom."


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