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Subchondral fracture after ischemic osteonecrosis of the immature femoral head in piglet model

Park, Soo-Sunga; Kim, Harry K.W.b

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics B: July 2011 - Volume 20 - Issue 4 - p 227–231
doi: 10.1097/BPB.0b013e328346725f

This experimental investigation was performed to study the development of a subchondral fracture after ischemic osteonecrosis of the immature femoral head using a piglet model. Forty-eight male piglets were studied after placing a ligature tightly around the femoral neck to disrupt the blood supply to the femoral head. Animals were euthanized 2–8 weeks after the induction of ischemia. Radiographic, histologic, and histomorphometric assessments were made. A subchondral fracture was seen in 12 out of 32 infarcted femoral heads (38%) that were in the initial radiographic stage of ischemic osteonecrosis. The fracture was seen mainly in those femoral heads that had a prolonged period of the initial stage where the initiation of revascularization and repair was delayed. Histomorphometric assessment showed decreased trabecular thickness and volume in the subchondral region of the infarcted femoral heads compared with the contralateral normal heads. After ischemic osteonecrosis, the trabecular bone in the subchondral region is thinner and less bone volume is present because of a lack of new bone formation. The results of this study support the hypothesis that a subchondral fracture in the immature femoral head develops as a result of mechanic failure of the trabecular bone in the subchondral region.

aAsan Medical Center, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Ulsan College of Medicine 86, Asanbyeongwon-gil, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea

bCenter for Excellence in Hip Disorders, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA

Correspondence to Dr Harry K.W. Kim, MD, MSc, FRCS(C), Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, 2222 Welborn Street, Dallas, TX 75219, USA Tel: +1 214 559 7877; fax: +1 214 559 7872; e-mail:

Study was conducted at the Shriners Hospitals for Children and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, USA.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.