Anteroposterior pelvic radiographs to assess acetabular retroversion: high validity of the "cross-over-sign"

J Orthop Res. 2007 Jun;25(6):758-65. doi: 10.1002/jor.20380.


Acetabular retroversion has been proposed to contribute to the development of osteoarthritis of the hip. For the diagnosis of this condition, conventional AP pelvic radiographs may represent a reliable, easily available diagnostic modality as they can be obtained with a reproducible technique allowing the anterior and posterior acetabular rims to be visible for assessment. This study was designed to: (i) determine cranial, central, and caudal anatomic acetabular version (AV) from cadaveric specimens; (ii) establish the validity and reliability of the radiographic measurements of central acetabular anteversion; and (iii) determine the validity and reliability of the radiographic "cross-over-sign" to detect acetabular retroversion. Using 43 desiccated pelvises (86 acetabuli) the anatomic AVs were measured at three different transverse planes (cranially, centrally, and caudally). From these pelvises, standardized AP pelvic radiographs were obtained. To directly measure central AV, a modified radiographic method is introduced for the use of AP pelvic radiographs. The validity and reliability of this radiographic method and of the radiographic cross-over-sign to detect cranial acetabular retroversion were determined. The mean central and caudal anatomic AVs were approximately 20 degrees , and the mean cranial AV was 8 degrees . Cranial retroversion (AV < 0 degrees ) was present in 19 of 86 hips (22%). A linear correlation was found between the central and cranial AV. Below 10 degrees of central AV, all acetabuli were cranially retroverted. Between 10 degrees and 20 degrees , 30% of the acetabuli were cranially retroverted, and above 20 degrees , only 1 of 45 acetabuli was cranially retroverted. The radiographic measurement of the central AV (20.3 +/- 6.5 degrees ) correlated strongly with the anatomic AV (20.1 +/- 6.4 degrees ). The sensitivity of the cross-over-sign to detect a cranial acetabular anteversion of less than 4 degrees was 96%, its specificity 95%, and the positive predictive and negative predictive values 90% and 98%, respectively. Both the modified radiographic anteversion measurements and the cross-over-sign demonstrated substantial inter- and intraobserver reliability. Retroversion is almost exclusively a problem of the cranial acetabulum. The cranial AV is on average 12 degrees lower than the central AV, with the latter directly measurable from AP pelvic radiographs. A central AV of less than 10 degrees was associated with cranial retroversion. The presence of a positive cross-over-sign is a highly reliable indicator of cranial AV of <4 degrees.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetabulum / abnormalities
  • Acetabulum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthrography / standards*
  • Female
  • Femur Head / diagnostic imaging
  • Hip Joint / abnormalities
  • Hip Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pelvis / diagnostic imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results