MR arthrography of the adult acetabular capsular-labral complex: correlation with surgery and anatomy

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1999 Aug;173(2):345-9. doi: 10.2214/ajr.173.2.10430132.


Objective: Our purpose was to describe the appearance of the acetabular capsular-labral complex on MR arthrography and to correlate this appearance with surgical findings in adult patients and with gross anatomic findings in cadavers.

Subjects and methods: MR arthrography of the hip joint was performed in 40 patients and six cadavers. All patients underwent subsequent arthrotomy of the hip. MR arthrography consisted of a T1-weighted three-dimensional gradient-echo sequence in both the coronal oblique and sagittal oblique planes after intraarticular injection of a 2 mmol/l solution of gadopentetate dimeglumine. The normal and pathologic appearance of the capsular-labral complex was assessed, and the labra were evaluated on the basis of morphology, signal intensity, presence of a tear, and attachment to the acetabulum. MR arthrography findings were correlated with the surgical results in all patients and with the anatomic sections of the cadaveric hip joint specimens.

Results: MR arthrography images of the T-weighted three-dimensional gradient-echo sequences allowed visualization of the anatomic structures. The normal labrum was triangular, without any sublabral sulcus, and of homogeneous low signal intensity. A recess between the labrum and the joint capsule could be identified in instances in which no thickened labrum was present. Labral lesions included labral degeneration, a tear, or a detached labrum either with or without thickening of the labrum. The sensitivity for detection and correct staging of labral lesions with MR arthrography in the patient study was 91%; the specificity, 71%; and the accuracy, 88%.

Conclusion: MR arthrography with T1-weighted three-dimensional gradient-echo sequences allows excellent assessment of the normal and pathologic acetabular capsular-labral complex.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetabulum / pathology*
  • Acetabulum / surgery
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Hip Joint / pathology*
  • Hip Joint / surgery
  • Humans
  • Joint Capsule / pathology*
  • Joint Capsule / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA