Ultimate failure strengths of human tibial collateral and anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments were determined at two different loading rates (12.5 and fifty centimeters per minute) using an Instron Tension Analyzer. The posterior cruciate ligament was significantly stronger than the tibial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments, which were of equal strength. At ultimate failure the ligaments were intact macroscopically but electron microscopy revealed widespread disruption of the collagen fibrils. Only after further application of stress did actual macroscopic disruption occur, suggesting that microscopic failure of the collagen fibrils in grossly intact ligaments may be a significant cause of clinical instability.

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