Morphometric study of the fetal development of the human hip joint: significance for congenital hip disease.
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Hip joints (280) from 140 human fetuses, obtained from abortions and deaths in the perinatal period, were studied. The fetuses ranged from 8.7 to 40 cm in crown-rump length and are believed to be between 12 and 42 weeks in age. The joints were dissected, morphology inspected, and measurements taken of the depth and diameter of the acetabulum, the diameter of the femoral head, length and width of the ligament of the head, the neck-shaft, and torsion angles of the proximal femur. Regression models were fitted to determine which would best predict the growth pattern. Multivariate analysis of variance showed no significant differences between males and females or between the right and left sides. Acetabular depth was shown to be the slowest-growing hip variable, increasing less than fourfold in the period studied. Acetabular indices less than 50 percent indicate a shallow socket at term. Femoral head and acetabular diameter demonstrated a strong relationship (r = 0.860) and in many joints the femoral head diameter exceeded that of the acetabulum. Considerable variability was demonstrated in both femoral angles. The femoral angles showed only low correlation with the other hip variables. These observations indicate that soft tissue structures about the joint must play an important role in neonatal joint stability. The explanation of greater female and left side involvement in congenital hip disease must lie in factors other than growth changes of hip dimensions. Neither angle appears to be a useful indicator of normal joint development.
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