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An important and longstanding field of research in orthopedic biomechanics is the elucidation and mathematical modeling of the mechanical response of cartilaginous tissues. Traditional approaches have treated such tissues as continua and have described their mechanical response in terms of macroscopic models borrowed from solid mechanics. The most important of such models are the biphasic and single-phase viscoelastic models, and the many variations thereof. These models have reached a high level of maturity and have been successful in describing a wide range of phenomena. An alternative approach that has received considerable recent interest, both in orthopedic biomechanics and in other fields, is the description of mechanical response based on consideration of a tissue's structure—so-called microstructural modeling. Examples of microstructurally based approaches include fibril-reinforced biphasic models and homogenization approaches. A review of both macroscopic and microstructural constitutive models is given in the present work.
The authors are with the Intelligent Systems for Medicine Laboratory, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley/Perth WA 6009, Australia.