Does surgical body position influence the risk for neurovascular injury in total hip arthroplasty? A magnetic resonance imaging study

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2021 Jan 20;102817. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2021.102817. Online ahead of print.


Background: Neurovascular injury is a critical complication in total hip arthroplasty (THA). However, neurovascular geographic variations around the hip joint in different body positions have not been examined. This study investigated the differences in hip neurovascular geography in the supine and lateral positions using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Hypothesis: The neurovascular geography of the hip is influenced by differences in surgical body position.

Patients and methods: This was a single-center prospective study of 15 healthy volunteers enrolled between January 2018 and March 2019. Each subject's bilateral hips were scanned with a 3-T MRI scanner in both the supine and lateral positions. In T1-weighted axial images at the level of the hip center, the anterior and posterior acetabular edges were defined as reference points at which retractors are commonly placed during surgery. We measured the distance between the anterior acetabular edge and the femoral nerve (dFN), femoral artery (dFA), and femoral vein (dFV), as well as that between the posterior acetabular edge and the sciatic nerve (dSN). The primary outcome measures were the distances in both the supine and lateral positions.

Results: dFN, dFA, and dFV in the supine and lateral positions (mm, mean±standard deviation) were 25.8±5.6 and 32.4±6.4 (p<0.0001), 25.7±4.5 and 32.2±5.0 (p<0.0001), and 26.5±4.8 and 32.3±5.1 (p<0.0001), respectively. Most of these elements moved anteromedially in the lateral position compared to the supine position. There was no significant difference in dSN between the supine and lateral positions (23.7±4.9 and 24.5±6.5 (p=0.46).

Discussion: THA in the supine position may be accompanied by a higher risk of femoral neurovascular injury than that in the lateral position. The application of our findings could reduce the risk of femoral neurovascular injury during THA.

Level of evidence: III; prospective diagnostic case control study.

Keywords: Femoral neurovascular injury; Lateral position; Magnetic resonance imaging; Supine position; Total hip arthroplasty.