Magnetic resonance arthrography of the hip: prevalence of diagnoses not suspected by the referring physician and correlation with clinical examination and pain score

Acta Radiol. 2016 May;57(5):595-601. doi: 10.1177/0284185115591238. Epub 2015 Jun 24.


Background: Magnetic resonance arthrography (MRA) of the hip is the most sensitive imaging modality for intra-articular pathologies such as labral tears.

Purpose: To evaluate the prevalence of non-suspected pathologies revealed by hip MRA and correlate them to physical examination/pain level.

Material and methods: All hip MRAs (2011-2013) were retrospectively evaluated for intra- and extra-articular pathologies in consensus by two readers. A clinical score (0-7)/pain score (0-10) was calculated for each patient based on orthopedic test results extracted from referral forms/a telephone questionnaire. Patients were divided into four groups according to MRA findings: intra-articular expected (targeted) pathology only; intra-articular targeted and additional non-targeted (unexpected) pathology; non-targeted pathology; and no pathology. Pathologies prevalence/clinical score/pain score were compared between the groups.

Results: A total of 229 MRAs were included (127 men, 102 women; mean age, 36.5 ± 14.17 years): 111(48.4%) patients had solely intra-articular targeted pathology. Significant non-targeted pathologies were detected in 76 (33%) patients (targeted and non-targeted, 51; non-targeted only 25). No significant pathology was detected in 42 patients (18%). Mean physical examination score was 2.77 ± 1.77, range 0-7. There was no significant difference or correlation (r = 0.017, P = 0.804) between the clinical scores of the different MRA pathology groups. Pain score (143 patients) was significantly higher in the non-targeted pathology group compared to the targeted and non-targeted group (P = 0.04) and to the no pathology group (P = 0.04). There was no correlation between the physical examination score and the pain score (r = 0.017, P = 0.804).

Conclusion: Unsuspected non-targeted pathologies were detected in 33% of hip MRA. Physical examination/pain level could not differentiate between patients.

Keywords: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); arthrography; hip; unsuspected diagnoses.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Examination
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Contrast Media