The etiology of osteoarthritis of the hip has long been considered secondary (eg, to congenital or developmental deformities) or primary (presuming some underlying abnormality of articular cartilage). Recent information supports a hypothesis that so-called primary osteoarthritis is also secondary to subtle developmental abnormalities and the mechanism in these cases is femoroacetabular impingement rather than excessive contact stress. The most frequent location for femoroacetabular impingement is the anterosuperior rim area and the most critical motion is internal rotation of the hip in 90 degrees flexion. Two types of femoroacetabular impingement have been identified. Cam-type femoroacetabular impingement, more prevalent in young male patients, is caused by an offset pathomorphology between head and neck and produces an outside-in delamination of the acetabulum. Pincer-type femoroacetabular impingement, more prevalent in middle-aged women, is produced by a more linear impact between a local (retroversion of the acetabulum) or general overcoverage (coxa profunda/protrusio) of the acetabulum. The damage pattern is more restricted to the rim and the process of joint degeneration is slower. Most hips, however, show a mixed femoroacetabular impingement pattern with cam predominance. Surgical attempts to restore normal anatomy to avoid femoroacetabular impingement should be performed in the early stage before major cartilage damage is present.
Level of evidence: Level V, therapeutic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.