Introduction: Obligatory external rotation during flexion is well recognised as a cardinal feature of Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphyses (SUFE). We have evaluated the significance of acetabular version in contributing to the external rotational deformity that is seen in otherwise normal hips. We present a small case series focussing on the characteristics of this pathology, highlighting its significance and outlining a treatment strategy.
Method: Five patients (eight hips) presented with disabling hip pain during non-sporting activities. All their hip radiographs had been reported as normal. The rotational profile of both acetabulum and femur in these patients was evaluated by MRI and CT scans.
Results: Clinical examination revealed otherwise normal hips but for an external rotation deformity which got worse on hip flexion. The average external rotation deformity with the hip in extension was 60 degrees, which worsened to 90 degrees during hip flexion. Three of these hips had been previously treated with in situ pinning for SUFE. Other hips were in patients who were either skeletally mature or close to skeletal maturity. We found that all were “profunda hips” with severe acetabular retroversion. The abnormality in acetabular version was best defined on axial imaging.
Conclusions: The femoral head is a spherical conchoid. The concept of version of the hip (both femoral and acetabular) as described by McKibbin, Tonnis and Ganz is reviewed. Femoral retroversion is common in patients with SUFE, but the addition of acetabular retroversion makes these hips disproportionately symptomatic. This deformity causes a combination of pincer and cam impingement, which is responsible for the marked disability. SUFE alone causes cam impingement, whilst a corresponding degree of slip without retroversion and profunda of the acetabulum is not that disabling.
Correspondence should be addressed to BSCOS c/o BOA, at the Royal College of Surgeons, 35–43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PE, England.