Is the frog lateral plain radiograph a reliable predictor of the alpha angle in femoroacetabular impingement?

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2010 Jan;92(1):47-50. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.92B1.22359.


The radiological evaluation of the anterolateral femoral head is an essential tool for the assessment of the cam type of femoroacetabular impingement. CT, MRI and frog lateral plain radiographs have all been suggested as imaging options for this type of lesion. The alpha angle is accepted as a reliable indicator of the cam type of impingement and may also be used as an assessment for the successful operative correction of the cam lesion. We studied the alpha angles of 32 consecutive patients with femoroacetabular impingement. The angle measured on frog lateral radiographs using templating tools was compared with that measured on CT scans in order to assess the reliability of the frog lateral view in analysing the alpha angle in cam impingement. A high interobserver reliability was noted for the assessment of the alpha angle on the frog lateral view with an intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.83. The mean alpha angle measured on the frog lateral view was 58.71 degrees (32 degrees to 83.3 degrees ) and that by CT was 65.11 degrees (30 degrees to 102 degrees ). A poor intraclass correlation coefficient (0.08) was noted between the measurements using the two systems. The frog lateral plain radiograph is not reliable for measuring the alpha angle. Various factors may be responsible for this such as the projection of the radiograph, the positioning of the patient and the quality of the image. CT may be necessary for accurate measurement of the alpha angle.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetabulum / abnormalities
  • Acetabulum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Acetabulum / surgery
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Femur Head / abnormalities
  • Femur Head / diagnostic imaging*
  • Femur Head / surgery
  • Hip Dislocation / diagnostic imaging
  • Hip Dislocation / surgery
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Joint Instability / diagnostic imaging*
  • Joint Instability / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Preoperative Care
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult