Collagen Fiber Orientation at the Tendon to Bone Insertion and its Influence on Stress Concentrations


The tendon to bone insertion serves the mechanical role of transferring loads from a relatively compliant tendon to a relatively rigid bone. The details of the mechanism of load transfer are of great importance, since current surgical procedures for tendon reattachment have high failure rates. We hypothesized that the microscopic structure of the insertion is optimized to minimize stress concentrations associated with this load transfer. To explore this, collagen fiber orientation distributions were measured in the supraspinatus tendons of rats. The angular deviation of fibers was fairly uniform across the insertion, and the mean angles of the local distributions deviated mildly from the tendon axis. To explore how these observed property distributions could influence load transfer, these distributions were used to derive material properties for an idealized two-dimensional mechanical model of an insertion. Comparison between stress concentrations in this idealized model and those in three comparison models suggests that the microstructure serves to (1) simultaneously reduce stress concentrations and material mass, and (2) shield the insertion's outward splay from the highest stresses.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


National Institutes of Health (U.S.)

Keywords and Phrases

Insertion Site; Tendon; Collagen; Modeling; Stress concentration

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0021-9290; 1873-2380

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2006 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2006