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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2009 Nov;91(11):1493-8. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.91B11.22305.

Impact of late surgical intervention on heterotopic ossification of the hip after traumatic neurological injury.

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  • 1Service de Médecine, Physioque et de Réadaptation, L'Hôpital Raymond Poincaré, Garches, France.


Heterotopic ossification (HO) of the hip after injury to the central nervous system can lead to joint ankylosis. Surgery is usually delayed to avoid recurrence, even if the functional status is affected. We report a consecutive series of patients with HO of the hip after injury to the central nervous system who required surgery in a single, specialised tertiary referral unit. As was usual practice, they all underwent CT to determine the location of the HO and to evaluate the density of the femoral head and articular surface. The outcome of surgery was correlated with the pre-, peri- and post-operative findings. In all, 183 hips (143 patients) were included of which 70 were ankylosed. A total of 25 peri-operative fractures of the femoral neck occurred, all of which arose in patients with ankylosed hips and were associated with intra-articular lesions in 18 and severe osteopenia of the femoral head in seven. All the intra-articular lesions were predicted by CT and strongly associated with post-operative complications. The loss of the range of movement before ankylosis is a more important factor than the maturity of the HO in deciding the timing of surgery. Early surgical intervention minimises the development of intra-articular pathology, osteoporosis and the resultant complications without increasing the risk of recurrence of HO.

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