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RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES. The frequency and morphology of central acetabular osteophyte formation were evaluated in patients with osteoarthritis.METHODS. One hundred preserved acetabular specimens were evaluated for the occurence of cental osteophytes (excrescences present in the articulation of the hip joint), their relationship to marginal and femoral osteophytes of the hip, and their radiographic appearance.RESULTS. In both specimen and patient analysis, the authors found that central excrescences occur commonly and appear to be related temporally to osteophytes of the femur and the margin of the acetabulum.CONCLUSIONS. The authors demonstrated a close relationship between the degree of marginal and femoral osteophytes with those found centrally, indicating a temporal relationship. The new radiographic signs discussed are: 1) a fine linear density associated with early osteoarthritis; 2) larger, more irregular densities associated with a more advanced stage of osteoarthritis; and 3) obliteration of the acetabular fossa by excrescences as found in severe osteoarthritis.