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Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol. 2013 Oct;23(7):791-5. doi: 10.1007/s00590-012-1082-0. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Subchondral cysts in dysplastic osteoarthritic hips communicate with the joint space: analysis using three-dimensional computed tomography.

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Department of Orthopedics, Institute of Health Biosciences, The University of Tokushima Graduate School, 3-18-15 Kuramoto-cho, Tokushima, 770-8503, Japan.



Bone cyst formation in hips increases as osteoarthritis worsens. Although bone cysts in hips have been described in many studies, their etiology remains unclear and under debate. The purpose of this study was to investigate the communication between a bone cyst and the joint space, as well as the relationship between the severity of osteoarthritis and the formation of subchondral bone cysts in dysplastic hips.


We studied bone cysts from 150 dysplastic hips in 97 patients by computed tomography (CT) and plain radiography. We investigated the distribution of the bone cysts and the presence or absence of a communication path between the cysts and the joint space by three-dimensional (3D) CT.


Of the 150 hips, 94 acetabula and 55 femoral heads were found to contain cysts. Of the 94 hips containing acetabular cysts, 89 and 5 hips showed black lines and gray lines connecting the cyst and the joint space, respectively, on 3D-CT. The rate of cyst presentation in the hip increased as the joint space became narrower. The number of hips that possessed cysts in the anterior and/or middle portion was significantly higher than that in the posterior portions.


Bone cysts in dysplastic osteoarthritic hips were found to communicate with the joint space in all cases. This suggests that the formation and enlargement of the cysts in dysplastic hips may be greatly influenced by the joint fluid. Cyst formation was initially observed in the anterior acetabulum, gradually progressing to involve the entire joint, including the posterior acetabulum and the femoral head, with worsening of the osteoarthritis.

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