Background: Like osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH), subchondral insufficiency fracture of the femoral head (SIF) causes femoral head collapse. However, little is known about the differences between the two diseases regarding the morphological features of the collapsed lesion. We tested the hypothesis that the morphological features of the lateral collapsed lesion would differ between ONFH and SIF. Methods: Twenty femoral heads histopathologically diagnosed as ONFH (n = 10) or SIF (n = 10) were used in this study. In the lateral collapsed lesion of each femoral head, cubic regions of interest (ROIs) were selected within the collapsed subchondral area and the nearby non-collapsed subchondral area. Micro-CT-based microarchitectural parameters were compared between the ROIs in each disease. Additionally, correlations between histopathological and microarchitectural features were evaluated. Results: In ONFH, bone volume fraction, trabecular thickness, and bone mineral density in the collapsed area were all significantly lower than those in the nearby non-collapsed area where thickened bone trabeculae accompanied by appositional bone formation were invariably seen. On the other hand, in SIF there were no significant differences between the ROIs in any of these microarchitectural parameters. Histopathologically, varying degrees of callus formation overlying the fracture of the subchondral plate were seen around the lateral collapsed lesion. Conclusion: The morphological features of the lateral collapsed lesion were inconsistent between ONFH and SIF, suggesting different pathomechanisms of femoral head collapse.
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