Defining the Borderline Dysplastic Hip: High Variability in Acetabular Coverage and Femoral Morphology on Low-Dose Computed Tomography

Elizabeth A. Graesser, Maria T. Schwabe, John C. Clohisy, Jeffrey J. Nepple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Borderline acetabular dysplasia is commonly radiographically defined as a lateral center-edge angle (LCEA) of 20° to 25°. While the variability of plain radiographic assessment of this population has been reported, an understanding of the variability of 3-dimensional (3D) hip morphology remains to be better defined. Purpose: To investigate the variability of 3D hip morphology present on low-dose computed tomography (CT) in the setting of symptomatic borderline acetabular dysplasia and to determine if plain radiographic parameters correlate with 3D coverage. Study Design: Cohort study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 2. Methods: A total of 70 consecutive hips with borderline acetabular dysplasia undergoing hip preservation surgery were included in the current study. Plain radiographic evaluation included LCEA, acetabular inclination, anterior center-edge angle (ACEA), anterior wall index (AWI), posterior wall index (PWI), and alpha angles on anteroposterior, 45° Dunn, and frog-leg views. All patients underwent low-dose pelvic CT for preoperative planning, which allowed detailed characterization of 3D morphology relative to normative data. Acetabular morphology was assessed with radial acetabular coverage (RAC) calculated according to standardized clockface positions from 8:00 (posterior) to 4:00 (anterior). Coverages at 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00 were classified as normal, undercoverage, or overcoverage relative to 1 SD from the mean of normative RAC values. Femoral morphology was assessed with femoral version, alpha angle (measured at 1:00 increments), and maximum alpha angle. Correlation was assessed with the Pearson correlation coefficient (r). Results: Lateral coverage (12:00 RAC) was deficient in 74.1% of hips with borderline dysplasia. Anterior coverage (2:00 RAC) was highly variable, with 17.1% undercoverage, 72.9% normal, and 10.0% overcoverage. Posterior coverage (10:00 RAC) was also highly variable, with 30.0% undercoverage, 62.9% normal, and 7.1% overcoverage. The 3 most common patterns of coverage were isolated lateral undercoverage (31.4%), normal coverage (18.6%), and combined lateral and posterior undercoverage (17.1%). The mean femoral version was 19.7°± 10.6° (range, −4° to 59°), with 47.1% of hips having increased femoral version (>20°). The mean maximum alpha angle was 57.2° (range, 43°-81°), with 48.6% of hips having an alpha angle ≥ 55°. The ACEA and AWI were poorly correlated with radial anterior coverage (r = 0.059 and 0.311, respectively), while the PWI was strongly correlated with radial posterior coverage (r = 0.774). Conclusion: Patients with borderline acetabular dysplasia demonstrate highly variable 3D deformities, including anterior, lateral, and posterior acetabular coverage; femoral version; and alpha angle. Plain radiographic assessments of anterior coverage are poorly correlated with anterior 3D coverage on low-dose CT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2551-2558
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • borderline acetabular dysplasia
  • computed tomography
  • hip arthroscopy
  • hip dysplasia
  • hip pain
  • hip preservation
  • periacetabular osteotomy


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