Occult periprosthetic fractures of the acetabulum in THA using an elliptic cup design have no adverse impact on outcome


Periprosthetic fracture ; acetabular fracture ; periprosthetic acetabular fracture ; total hip arthroplasty ; clinical outcome

Published online: Sep 14 2021


Thomas Vincent Häller, Claudio Dora, Pascal Schenk, Patrick Oliver Zingg

From the Departement of Orthopaedics, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zürich, Switzerland


Occult periprosthetic fractures have been defined as a fracture only visible on postoperative CT scans but not on postoperative plain radiography after an uneventful surgery without intraoperative fracture. The fracture rate for hemispherical and peripheral self-locking cups has been described as 8.4%. We retrospectively analyzed postoperative CT scans after primary THA to clear the question whether such occult periprosthetic fractures of the acetabulum require particular treatment strategy.

Between 2014 and 2018 we identified 115 CT scans of 114 patients after primary cementless THA with elliptical cups using a direct anterior approach. The CT scans were obtained as part of other investigations. Localization of the fracture, patients demographics, clinical (WOMAC, Harris Hip Score) and radiological outcome were analyzed.

Fracture and non-Fracture group were compared with regard to demographics and short-term outcome after 1 year.

Four occult fractures (3.5%) were identified. Three fractures involved the posterior wall. All patients had an uneventful routine postoperative rehabilitation. Patients with occult fractures showed similar post- operative HHS and WOMAC scores at 3 (HHS p = 0.576, WOMAC p = 0.128) and 12 (HHS p = 0.479, WOMAC p = 0.588) months. There were no cup loosening nor radiolucent lines at latest follow-up (mean FU 22 months, range 12-34 months).

Clinical and radiological short-term outcome was not impaired by the occurrence of an occult periprosthetic fracture of the acetabulum. The incidental detection of an occult periprosthetic fracture of the acetabulum does not seem to oblige the surgeon to adapt the postoperative regime.