Background: Given the lack of established, externally validated criteria for the diagnosis of unstable hips, the Femoro-Epiphyseal Acetabular Roof (FEAR) index has been proposed as a useful tool for identifying hips with instability in the setting of borderline acetabular dysplasia. Purposes: To (1) determine the external performance of the FEAR index in identifying hips with a clinical diagnosis of instability in the setting of borderline dysplasia and (2) assess the performance of the FEAR index compared with acetabular inclination or physeal scar angle alone. Study Design: Cohort study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 3. Methods: The authors reviewed 176 patients with borderline acetabular dysplasia (lateral center-edge angle, 20°-25°). A positive FEAR index was defined as ≥5°. An alternative threshold ≥2° was also assessed. Significant instability was determined by the senior surgeon based on the combination of patient and radiographic features; unstable hips were treated with periacetabular osteotomy (with or without hip arthroscopy), and stable hips were treated with isolated hip arthroscopy. Results: Only 18% of borderline hips had a positive FEAR index. The ≥5° positive FEAR index threshold had a sensitivity of 33% (23/70) and specificity of 92% (98/106) in predicting the clinical diagnosis of instability. The ≥2° FEAR index threshold had a sensitivity of 39% (27/70) and specificity of 89% (94/106) in predicting the clinical diagnosis of instability. No alternative threshold for the FEAR index resulted in high levels of sensitivity and specificity. A threshold of –5° was required to reach an adequate sensitivity of 74%. The FEAR index remained a significant predictor of hip instability even after controlling for acetabular inclination (odds ratio, 1.12; P <.001) or physeal scar angle (odds ratio, 1.6; P <.001). Conclusion: In the current study, a positive FEAR index was generally indicative of the presence of clinical instability, but the FEAR index alone remained inadequate to fully define the instability of a given hip, as it demonstrated low sensitivity (only 33%) in the external validation. The FEAR index is best used in the context of other clinical and radiographic features.
- FEAR index
- borderline dysplasia