Abnormalities in size and position of the acetabulum have been linked to both developmental dysplasia of the hip and femoroacetabular impingement. Owing to its 3-dimensional (3D) complexity, plain radiography and cross-sectional studies [computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging] have limitations in their ability to capture the complexity of the acetabular 3D anatomy. The goal of the study was to use 3D computed tomography reconstructions to identify the acetabular lunate cartilage and measure its size at varying ages of development and between sexes.
Patients aged 10 to 18 years with asymptomatic hips and a CT pelvis for appendicitis were reviewed. Patients were stratified by sex and age: preadolescent (10 to 12), young adolescent (13 to 15), and old adolescent (16 to 18) in equal proportions. Materialise 3-matic was used to generate a 3D pelvic model, and the acetabular lunate cartilage surface area was calculated. The lunate cartilage was divided into anatomic segments: superior (11:00 to 1:00), anterior (1:00 to 4:00), and posterior (8:00 to 11:00). The femoral head surface area was calculated to control for patient size. Mixed effects models were generated predicting segment size where side was treated as a repeated measure. Absolute and relative (lunate cartilage to femoral head) models were generated.
Sixty-two patients (124 hips) were included. Females showed a significant decrease in femoral head coverage as age increased overall and in the 3 subsegments. The majority of changes occurred between the preadolescent and young adolescent groups. Males did not show an overall change, but the superior and anterior anatomic subgroups showed a significant decrease in coverage between the young and old adolescent groups. Male lunate cartilages were absolutely, but not relatively, larger than females. No clinically significant side-to-side differences were noted.
The relative femoral head coverage by the acetabular lunate cartilage reduced with increasing age, suggesting the growth of the femoral head outpaces the acetabular lunate cartilage’s growth. This was more prominent in females. This study has important implications for expected acetabular coverage changes in the latter aspects of pediatric and adolescent development.
Level of Evidence:
Level III—diagnostic study.