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Effects of traction, distension, and joint position on distraction of the hip joint: an experimental study in cadavers

Michael Dienst, Romain Seil, Stefan Gödde, Michael Brang, Kurt Becker, Thomas Georg, Dieter Kohn
Arthroscopy 2002, 18 (8): 865-71

PURPOSE: To quantify the effects of traction alone and in combination with distension of air in different joint positions in order to find out the conditions for adequate distraction of the hip joint with minimal traction force.

TYPE OF STUDY: Experimental cadaver study.

METHODS: Eight cadaver hip joints were studied. The cadavers were placed supine on a fracture table and traction was applied in different joint positions for flexion and abduction with and without distension using air. For the measurement, the joint space between the acetabulum and femoral head was separated by 4 different lines characterizing the lateral margin of the acetabulum, the superior portions of the lunate cartilage, and the acetabular fossa.

RESULTS: At all measurement lines, distraction of the hip was significantly better when traction and distension were combined. At traction forces from 250 to 300 N, traction plus distension resulted in a 1.59- to 2.25-fold increase of joint distraction compared to traction alone. The maximum effect of distension was achieved between 200 and 250 N. Up to traction forces of 250 N, the joint vacuum force counted for more than half of the total resistance. The effects of flexion and abduction on distraction of the hip were smaller. A trend for better distraction was found for 20 degrees of flexion and a significantly better distraction by avoiding abduction.

CONCLUSIONS: High traction forces by breakage of the joint seal can be avoided by distension using air. The passive resistance of the soft tissues increases at higher traction forces. Slight flexion without abduction showed further increase of joint distraction. Reducing the amount of traction may possibly reduce the risk of soft tissue perineal and neurologic injuries.


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