Traumatic Hip Dislocation: What the Orthopedic Surgeon Wants to Know

Radiographics. Nov-Dec 2017;37(7):2181-2201. doi: 10.1148/rg.2017170012.


Hip dislocation is an important orthopedic emergency usually seen in young patients who have experienced high-energy trauma, often resulting in significant long-term morbidity. Rapid identification and reduction is critical, as prolonged dislocation increases the risk of developing avascular necrosis of the femoral head, and posttraumatic osteoarthritis is a common complication, even in the absence of associated fractures. Identification and timely management of hip dislocation are highly dependent on imaging, both at presentation and after attempted reduction. It is imperative for the radiologist to understand imaging features that guide management of hip dislocation to ensure timely identification, characterization, and communication of clinically relevant results. Although the importance of prompt identification of hip dislocation is universally recognized, the significance of imaging features that guide correct management and are thought to prevent complications is less emphasized in the radiology literature. In this article, the authors review the anatomy of the hip, common injury mechanisms for various types of dislocations, and imaging findings for associated injuries. They review the most commonly used classification systems and propose a simplified checklist approach to hip dislocation to aid rapid interpretation and communication of the most clinically relevant imaging features to the treating orthopedic surgeon. ©RSNA, 2017.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anatomic Landmarks
  • Hip Dislocation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hip Dislocation / surgery*
  • Hip Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Surgeons*