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J Orthop Trauma. 2014 Jan;28(1):6-9. doi: 10.1097/BOT.0b013e31829ff3c9.

Variation in the femoral bow: a novel high-throughput analysis of 3922 femurs on cross-sectional imaging.

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  • 1Departments of *Orthopaedic Surgery; and †General Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.



To evaluate femoral radius of curvature in a large sample of computed tomography scans to definitively determine the relationship between radius of curvature and femoral length, age, gender, ethnicity, body mass index and cortical thickness.


A retrospective review was conducted of the electronic medical records and advanced imaging of 1961 patients who underwent pulmonary embolism protocol computed tomography scans between December 1999 and March 2010. The computed tomography scans were imported from the clinical picture archiving and communication system archive into a research image archive and analysis system. Each scan was processed by an automated system that algorithmically determined bony landmarks, adjusted for body position within the scanner and measured the radius of curvature.


The mean medullary radius of curvature of 3922 femurs was 112 cm (SD = 26 cm). The mean anterior radius of curvature of the femurs was 145 cm (SD = 55 cm). There was a moderately strong positive correlation (0.36-0.39) between femoral length and radius of curvature (P < 0.0001) that was not affected by age, body mass index, cortical thickness, gender, or ethnicity. No significant relationship was found between either gender or ethnicity and radius of curvature independent of femoral length.


Differences in radius of curvature based on ethnicity and gender exist primarily because of the variation in average height, and therefore femur length, that exists between ethnic groups and genders. These data may prove useful in the design of safer intramedullary implants that accommodate a greater spectrum of anatomic variation.

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