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MRI as a reliable and accurate method for assessment of posterior hip dislocation in children and adolescents without the risk of radiation exposure.

BACKGROUND: Posterior hip dislocation in children and adolescents may involve the non-ossified posterior acetabular wall. Plain radiographs and computed tomography (CT) have been shown to underestimate injury to the unossified acetabulum as well as associated soft-tissue structures.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to describe findings on radiographs, CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) after posterior hip dislocation in a series of adolescents and to report the intraoperative findings, which are considered the gold standard. Measurements of the posterior wall length using MRI and CT scans were also performed.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: After institutional review board approval, 40 patients who sustained a traumatic posterior dislocation of the hip between September 2007 and April 2014 were identified. Inclusion criteria were (1) age younger than 16 years old and (2) availability of MRI obtained following closed reduction of the hip. Eight male patients and one female patient with an average age of 13.2 years (range: 10.1-16.2 years) underwent hip MRI following posterior dislocation. Seven of the nine patients also underwent evaluation by CT. Plain radiographs, CT scans and MRI were evaluated in all patients by a single pediatric radiologist blinded to surgical findings for joint space asymmetry, posterior wall fracture, femoral head fracture, labrum tear, complete or partial ligamentum teres rupture and presence of intra-articular fragments. Six patients underwent surgical treatment and the intraoperative findings were compared with the imaging findings.

RESULTS: CT identified all bone injuries but underestimated the involvement of posterior wall fractures. Assessment of the posterior wall size and fracture displacement was possible with MRI. All surgically confirmed soft-tissue injuries, including avulsion of the posterior labrum, were identified preoperatively on MRI. The measurement of posterior wall length was not statistically different using CT and MRI.

CONCLUSION: Intraoperative pathological findings at the time of open surgical treatment were universally recognized on MRI but not on CT scans. MRI should be considered for evaluation of the hip following closed reduction for the treatment of a posterior dislocation in children and adolescents as it reliably allows assessment of intra-articular pathology without the risk of radiation exposure.

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