Characterization of Ossification of the Posterior Rim of Acetabulum in the Developing Hip and Its Impact on the Assessment of Femoroacetabular Impingement

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Background:Many radiographic indices that are used to assess adolescents for femoroacetabular impingement rely on an ossified posterior acetabular wall. A recent study identified a secondary ossification center in the posterior rim of the acetabulum, the ossification of which may affect perceived acetabular coverage. The purpose of this study was to characterize ossification of the posterior rim of the acetabulum with use of a longitudinal radiographic study and quantify its impact on the radiographic assessment of femoroacetabular impingement.Methods:In this study, we utilized a historical collection of annual radiographs made in a population of healthy adolescents. Six hundred and twelve anteroposterior radiographs of the left hip of ninety-eight patients were reviewed to identify the appearance, duration, and fusion of the secondary ossification center in the posterior rim of the acetabulum. The center-edge angle was then measured before appearance and after fusion of the secondary ossification center in a subset of ten patients who had <5° of rotation on all radiographs.Results:The secondary ossification center in the posterior rim was identified in seventy-three of the ninety-eight subjects, with no significant difference between the sexes. The mean patient age at the time of radiographic appearance of this secondary ossification center was fourteen years for males and twelve years for females. The mean duration of radiographic appearance was ten months for both sexes. Serial center-edge angles were measured in a subset of ten patients, and they increased during posterior rim ossification by a mean of 4.1°.Conclusions:The secondary ossification center in the posterior rim of the acetabulum (the posterior rim sign) is a common radiographic finding that reliably appears for ten months around the time of triradiate closure. Posterior rim ossification led to a mean increase of 4° of perceived acetabular coverage through the center-edge angle. Given the narrow margin between normal coverage (33° to 36°) and acetabular overcoverage (>40°), the use of radiographs in adolescents with incompletely ossified hips may lead to misinterpretation of acetabular coverage. In patients with open triradiate cartilage, magnetic resonance imaging may be considered for the assessment of femoroacetabular impingement.Clinical Relevance:The posterior rim ossification sign is a normal finding in adolescent hip development and has important implications for the proper evaluation of femoroacetabular impingement.

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