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Anat Embryol (Berl). 1997 Mar;195(3):279-88.

Direct comparison of contact areas, contact stress and subchondral mineralization in human hip joint specimens.

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Anatomische Anstalt, Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München, Germany.


X-ray densitometric and CT osteoabsorptiometric findings suggest that in the human hip subchondral mineralization patterns change from bicentric to monocentric as a function of age. It has been hypothesized that these changes indicate an alteration in the geometric configuration of the joint from incongruous to congruous, possibly associated with the onset of osteoarthrosis. The purpose of this study was therefore to directly compare contact rates, contact stress and subchondral mineralization in the hip joint. Twelve specimens without cartilage lesions (ages 34-86 years) were investigated. Simulating the mid-stance phase, the contact areas were determined by polyether casting and the contact stress with Fuji film. The distribution of subchondral mineralization was assessed non-invasively with CT osteoabsorptiometry. At small loads the load-bearing areas were located at the periphery of the lunate surface. In some joints they were found in the acetabular roof and expanded, with higher loads, to the center of the lunate surface and the anterior and posterior horns. In other joints, the contact areas were recorded at lower loads in the anterior and posterior horns, and only at higher forces they merged in the acetabular roof. The maximal contact stress ranged from 8 t 9 MPa at 300% body weight. Maxima of subchondral mineralization were recorded in the acetabular roof, in the anterior and posterior horns, or in all three locations. There was no clear correlation between the distribution of contact and pressure, and the pattern of subchondral bone density. Incongruity is shown to strongly affect the distribution of contact and pressure in the human hip joint. However, the pattern of subchondral mineralization cannot be readily explained in terms of the contact areas and contact stress during mid-stance. Incongruity may give rise to tensile stresses in the subchondral bone, and the construction of the pelvis as a whole may play an important role in subchondral bone loss loads and adaptation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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