Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

Three Patterns of Acetabular Deficiency Are Common in Young Adult Patients With Acetabular Dysplasia

Jeffrey J. Nepple MD, Joel Wells MD, MPH, James R. Ross MD, Asheesh Bedi MD, Perry L. Schoenecker MD, John C. Clohisy MD



Detailed recognition of the three-dimensional (3-D) deformity in acetabular dysplasia is important to help guide correction at the time of reorientation during periacetabular osteotomy (PAO). Common plain radiographic parameters of acetabular dysplasia are limited in their ability to characterize acetabular deficiency precisely. The 3-D characterization of such deficiencies with low-dose CT may allow for more precise characterization.


The purposes of this study were (1) to determine the variability in 3-D acetabular deficiency in acetabular dysplasia; (2) to define subtypes of acetabular dysplasia based on 3-D morphology; (3) to determine the correlation of plain radiographic parameters with 3-D morphology; and (4) to determine the association of acetabular dysplasia subtype with patient clinical characteristics including sex, range of motion, and femoral version.


Using our hip preservation database, we identified 153 hips (148 patients) that underwent PAO from October 2013 to July 2015. Among those, we noted 103 hips in 100 patients with acetabular dysplasia (lateral center-edge angle < 20°) and who had a Tönnis grade of 0 or 1. Eighty-six patients (86%) underwent preoperative low-dose pelvic CT scans at our institution as part of the preoperative planning for PAO. It is currently our standard to obtain preoperative low-dose pelvic CT scans (0.75–1.25 mSv, equivalent to three to five AP pelvis radiographs) on all patients before undergoing PAO unless a prior CT scan was performed at an outside institution. Hips with a history of a neuromuscular disorder, prior trauma, prior surgery, radiographic evidence of joint degeneration, ischemic necrosis, or Perthes-like deformities were excluded. Fifty hips in 50 patients met inclusion criteria and had CT scans available for review. These low-dose CT scans of 50 patients with symptomatic acetabular dysplasia undergoing evaluation for surgical planning of PAO were then retrospectively studied. CT scans were analyzed quantitatively for acetabular coverage, relative to established normative data for acetabular coverage, as well as measurement of femoral version. The cohort included 45 females and five males with a mean age of 26 years (range, 13–49 years).


Lateral acetabular deficiency was present in all patients, whereas anterior deficiency and posterior deficiency were variable. Three patterns of acetabular deficiency were common: anterosuperior deficiency (15 of 50 [30%]), global deficiency (18 of 50 [36%]), and posterosuperior deficiency (17 of 50 [34%]). The presence of a crossover sign or posterior wall sign was poorly predictive of the dysplasia subtype. With the numbers available, males appeared more likely to have a posterosuperior deficiency pattern (four of five [80%]) compared with females (13 of 45 [29%], p = 0.040). Hip internal rotation in flexion was significantly greater in anterosuperior deficiency (23° versus 18°, p = 0.05), whereas external rotation in flexion was significantly greater in posterosuperior deficiency (43° versus 34°, p = 0.018). Acetabular deficiency pattern did not correlate with femoral version, which was variable across all subtypes.


Three patterns of acetabular deficiency commonly occur among young adult patients with mild, moderate, and severe acetabular dysplasia. These patterns include anterosuperior, global, and posterosuperior deficiency and are variably observed independent of femoral version. Recognition of these distinct morphologic subtypes is important for diagnostic and surgical treatment considerations in patients with acetabular dysplasia to optimize acetabular correction and avoid femoroacetabular impingement.

Back to top