Imaging of the hip joint. Computed tomography versus magnetic resonance imaging

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1992 Jan:(274):135-53.


The authors reviewed the applications and limitations of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in the assessment of the most common hip disorders. Magnetic resonance imaging is the most sensitive technique in detecting osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Magnetic resonance reflects the histologic changes associated with osteonecrosis very well, which may ultimately help to improve staging. Computed tomography can more accurately identify subchondral fractures than MR imaging and thus remains important for staging. In congenital dysplasia of the hip, the position of the nonossified femoral head in children less than six months of age can only be inferred by indirect signs on CT. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrates the cartilaginous femoral head directly without ionizing radiation. Computed tomography remains the imaging modality of choice for evaluating fractures of the hip joint. In some patients, MR imaging demonstrates the fracture even when it is not apparent on radiography. In neoplasm, CT provides better assessment of calcification, ossification, and periosteal reaction than MR imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging, however, represents the most accurate imaging modality for evaluating intramedullary and soft-tissue extent of the tumor and identifying involvement of neurovascular bundles. Magnetic resonance imaging can also be used to monitor response to chemotherapy. In osteoarthrosis and rheumatoid arthritis of the hip, both CT and MR provide more detailed assessment of the severity of disease than conventional radiography because of their tomographic nature. Magnetic resonance imaging is unique in evaluating cartilage degeneration and loss, and in demonstrating soft-tissue alterations such as inflammatory synovial proliferation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / diagnosis
  • Arthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur Head Necrosis / diagnosis
  • Femur Head Necrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Hip Dislocation, Congenital / diagnosis
  • Hip Dislocation, Congenital / diagnostic imaging
  • Hip Fractures / diagnosis
  • Hip Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Hip Joint* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hip Joint* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*