MRI scans reveal underlying hip deformity could cause damage

8 September 2011

A new study has strengthened the connection between hip damage and possible future orthopaedic surgery among young men as a result of an underlying bone deformity, known as cam impingement.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland detected bony bumps on the femoral head, thereby strengthening the link between osteoarthritis of the hip and cam-type deformities, a major reason behind many replacement hip operations.

"Our study is the first population-based MRI study to confirm the role of cam-type deformities of the hip as a potential risk factor for joint damage," explained lead researcher Dr Stephan Reichenbach of the findings, published in the Arthritis & Rheumatism journal.

He added that given cam-type deformities were common in young males who so far had not shown any symptoms of conditions needing treatment, they examined whether the deformities were associated with early signs of MRI-detected hip damage.

As a result of the research, the prevalence for cam-type deformities in young men was readjusted to 24 per cent.

According to Arthritis Research UK, osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease and affects at least eight million people in the UK. There is no obvious cause to its development, although it is not clearly understood why people of Chinese and Afro-Caribbean origin rarely get it.

Posted by Edward Bartel

1 Reichenbach, Stephan, et. al., "Association Between Cam-Type Deformities and MRI Detected Structural Damage of the Hip: A Cross-Sectional Study in Young Males". Arthritis & Rheumatism. Thursday September 8th 2011.

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