Combining acetabular and femoral morphology improves our understanding of the down syndrome hip

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Hip instability is frequent in patients with Down syndrome. Recent studies have suggested that skeletal hip alterations are responsible for this instability; however, there are currently no studies simultaneously assessing femoral and acetabular anatomy in subjects with Down syndrome in the standing position. The aim was to analyze the three-dimensional anatomy of the Down syndrome hip in standing position.


Down syndrome subjects were age and sex-matched to asymptomatic controls. All subjects underwent full body biplanar X-rays with three-dimensional reconstructions of their pelvises and lower limbs. Parameter means and distributions were compared between the two groups.


Forty-one Down syndrome and 41 control subjects were recruited. Acetabular abduction (mean = 52° [SD = 9°] vs. mean = 56° [SD = 8°]) and anteversion (mean = 14° [SD = 8°] vs. mean = 17.5° [SD = 5°]) as well as posterior acetabular sector angle (mean = 91° [SD = 7°] vs. mean = 94° [SD = 7°]) were significantly lower in Down syndrome subjects compared to controls (P < 0.01). Anterior acetabular sector angle (mean = 62° [SD = 10°] vs. mean = 59° [SD = 7°]; P < 0.01) was significantly higher in Down syndrome compared to controls. The distributions of acetabular anteversion (P = 0.002;V = 0.325), femoral anteversion (P = 0.004;V = 0.309) and the instability index (P < 0.001;V = 0.383) were significantly different between the two groups, with subjects with Down syndrome having both increased anteversion and retroversion for each of these parameters.


Subjects with Down syndrome were found to have a significantly altered and more heterogeneous anatomy of their proximal hips compared to controls. This heterogeneity suggests that treatment strategies of hip instability in Down syndrome should be subject-specific and should rely on the understanding of the underlying three-dimensional anatomy of each patient.

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