A Physiological Dynamic Testing Machine for the Elbow Joint

Johannes Kiene 1, Robert Wendlandt 2, Marcus Heinritz 2, Angelika Schall 1, Arndt-Peter Schulz*, 1
1 Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery, University Medical Centre Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D-23562 Lübeck, Germany
2 Laboratory of Biomechanics, University Medical Centre Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D-23562 Lübeck, Germany

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© Kiene et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D-23562 Lübeck, Germany; Tel: +49-451 5004730; Fax: +49-451 5002050; E-mail:



The aim of our study was to develop a test setup combining realistic force transmission with physiological movement patterns at a frequency that mimicked daily use of the elbow, to assess implants in orthopedic joint reconstruction and trauma surgery.


In a multidisciplinary approach, an in vitro biomechanical testing machine was developed and manufactured that could simulate the repetitive forceful movement of the human elbow joint. The construction involved pneumatic actuators. An aluminum forearm module enabled movements in 3 degrees of freedom, while motions and forces were replicated via force and angular sensors that were similar to in vivo measurements.


In the initial testing, 16 human elbow joint specimens were tested at 35 Nm in up to 5000 cycles at a range of 10° extension to 110° flexion. The transmitted forces led to failure in 9 out of the 16 tested specimens, significantly more often in females and small specimens.


It is possible to construct a testing machine to simulate nearly physiological repetitive elbow motions. The prototype has a number of technical deficiencies that could be modified. When testing implants for the human elbow with cadaver specimens, the specimen has to be chosen according to the intended use of the implant under investigation.

Keywords: Biomechanics, dynamic testing machine, elbow joint, processus coronoideus, bone fracture.