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Journal of Biomechanics


Liquid metal strain gauges (LMSGs) were implanted in the tendinous interosseous muscle, also called suspensory ligament (SL), in the forelimbs of 6 ponies in order to quantify in vivo strains and forces. Kinematics and ground reaction forces were recorded simultaneously with LMSG signals at the walk and the trot prior to implantation, and 3 and 4 days thereafter. The ponies were euthanised and tensile and failure tests were performed on the instrumented tendons and on the tendons of the contra lateral limb, which were instrumented post mortem. The origo–insertional (OI) strain of the SL was computed from pre- and post-operative kinematics, using a 2D geometrical model.

The LMSG-recorded peak strain of the SL was 5.4±0.9% at the walk and 9.1±1.3% at the trot. Failure occurred at 15.4±2.1% (mean±S.D.). The LMSG strain was higher than the simultaneously recorded OI strain 0.5±0.7% strain at the walk and 2.2±1.1% strain at the trot. Post-operative OI strains were only slightly higher than pre-operative values. Failure strains of in vivo instrumented SLs were 2.0±1.2% strain higher, and failure forces were slightly lower, than those of the contra lateral SLs that were instrumented post mortem.

SL strains appeared to be considerably higher than those found in earlier acute experiments. Differences between in vivo LMSG and OI strains, supported by lower failure strains comparing in vivo and post mortem instrumented SLs, revealed that local changes in tendon mechanical properties occurred within 3 to 4 days after transducer implantation. Therefore, measurements of normal physiological tendon strains should be performed as soon as possible after transducer implantation.