JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Evaluation of the muscle morphology of the obturator externus and piriformis as the predictors of avascular necrosis of the femoral head in acetabular fractures.

Avascular necrosis (AVN) of femoral head is a recognised complication of fracture dislocation of the hip joint but is not studied frequently in relation to acetabulum fractures. The aim was to establish the relationship between obturator externus and piriformis muscle morphology in acetabulum fractures and potenital development of AVN of the femoral head. Twenty-five fractures were included in this prospective study and were subjected to radiological assessment and computed tomography of the pelvis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the hip was performed to assess the morphology of obturator externus and piriformis, and findings were compared intraoperatively (in 15 cases). Serial radiographs were taken at monthly intervals to assess the development of avascular necrosis. The patients with no evidence of AVN on radiographs at 6 months had additional MRI scans to look for such changes. Three patients developed AVN of femoral head and two had complete tears of piriformis and/or obturator externus muscles on the pre-operative MRI with the findings confirmed intraoperatively (p = 0.013). None of the patients without changes of AVN at 6-month follow-up had complete tears of either or both muscles. Of these patients, there was one case each of T-type fracture, isolated posterior wall fracture with hip dislocation, and posterior wall with transverse fracture of the acetabulum. Complete tears of obturator externus and/or piriformis muscles are a strong predictor of future development of AVN of the femoral head.

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