Structure and vascularization of the acetabular labrum with regard to the pathogenesis and healing of labral lesions

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2003 Jul;123(6):283-8. doi: 10.1007/s00402-003-0527-7. Epub 2003 Jun 7.


Introduction: The aim of this study is to examine the structure and vascularization of the acetabular labrum with regard to the pathogenesis and healing of labral tears.

Materials and methods: The labral tissue was characterized immunohistochemically and under light microscopy; the collagen fibril texture was demonstrated by scanning electron microscopy after temporary staggered maceration of the tissue; and the vascularization of the acetabular labrum was studied immunohistochemically using antibodies against laminin.

Results: The peripheral aspect of the acetabular labrum consists of dense connective tissue. The internal layer consists of type II collagen-positive fibrocartilage. Scanning electron microscopy revealed three distinct layers in the acetabular labrum: (1) the articular surface was covered by a meshwork of thin fibrils; (2) beneath the superficial network, there is a layer of lamella-like collagen fibrils; (3) the majority of the collagen fibrils are oriented in a circular manner. Blood vessels enter the labrum from the adjacent joint capsule. The distribution of vessels within the labrum is not homogenous. Blood vessels can be detected only in the peripheral one-third of the labrum. The internal part is avascular.

Conclusion: The result of this study demonstrates that the structure of the acetabular labrum is highly significant for the direction of traumatic and dysplastic labral lesions. The biomechanical analysis of the structure suggests that the labrum is stressed by compressive load. Therefore, excision or removal of the labrum may alter physiological functions such as enhancing joint stability and load distribution. The vascular pattern identified should encourage surgeons to develop repair strategies of peripheral labral tears to maintain its functions in the hip.

MeSH terms

  • Acetabulum / blood supply
  • Acetabulum / pathology
  • Acetabulum / physiology
  • Acetabulum / ultrastructure*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cartilage / ultrastructure
  • Connective Tissue / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Aged
  • Tensile Strength
  • Wound Healing / physiology