Background: Although acetabular dysplasia is a common etiology of osteoarthritis of the hip regardless of the history of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), whether or not corrective surgeries are beneficial for the childhood asymptomatic acetabular dysplasia remains controversial due to a lack of evidence. We conducted a longitudinal study to compare the cartilaginous morphology on childhood magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the mature hip morphology of the same patient and to assess the predictive indicators for future acetabular dysplasia. Methods: A total of 92 unaffected hips (47 unilateral DDH and 45 unilateral Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease) were reviewed for X-ray and MRI findings on childhood (mean age: 6.0 years) and X-ray findings from a skeletally mature age with a mean follow-up period of 15.1 years. The following parameters were measured and compared: the immature-acetabular index (AI) and center edge angle (CE) on immature X-ray; the cartilage- and bone- AI, CE, Sharp and acetabular head index (AHI) on childhood MRI; and the mature-acetabular roof obliquity (ARO), CE, Sharp and AHI on skeletally mature X-ray. The prognostic factors on childhood MRI for acetabular dysplasia, defined by a CE of <20° on skeletally mature X-ray were also assessed. Results: Positive correlations were shown between the cartilage-AI and mature-ARO (7.6°/6.3°; r = 0.44), the cartilage-CE and mature-CE (27.8°/28.0°; r = 0.62), the cartilage-Sharp and mature-Sharp (44.4°/41.8°; r = 0.52) and the cartilage-AHI and mature-AHI (78.7%/80.3%; r = 0.46). A multivariate analysis indicated cartilage-CE to be an independent predictor for acetabular dysplasia with a cut-off value of 22°. Children with a cartilage-CE <22° developed more frequently acetabular dysplasia compared to the others (52.4% vs. 1.4%). Conclusions: Childhood MRI findings are useful for the prediction of acetabular dysplasia without a DDH history. Children with a cartilage-CE ≥23° are likely to achieve a non-dysplastic hip without the need for surgical intervention.
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