Can CT-based gap and step-off displacement predict outcome after nonoperative treatment of acetabular fractures?

Bone Joint J. 2023 Sep 1;105-B(9):1020-1029. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.105B9.BJJ-2023-0191.R1.


Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between fracture displacement and survivorship of the native hip joint without conversion to a total hip arthroplasty (THA), and to determine predictors for conversion to THA in patients treated nonoperatively for acetabular fractures.

Methods: A multicentre cross-sectional study was performed in 170 patients who were treated nonoperatively for an acetabular fracture in three level 1 trauma centres. Using the post-injury diagnostic CT scan, the maximum gap and step-off values in the weightbearing dome were digitally measured by two trauma surgeons. Native hip survival was reported using Kaplan-Meier curves. Predictors for conversion to THA were determined using Cox regression analysis.

Results: Of 170 patients, 22 (13%) subsequently received a THA. Native hip survival in patients with a step-off ≤ 2 mm, > 2 to 4 mm, or > 4 mm differed at five-year follow-up (respectively: 94% vs 70% vs 74%). Native hip survival in patients with a gap ≤ 2 mm, > 2 to 4 mm, or > 4 mm differed at five-year follow-up (respectively: 100% vs 84% vs 78%). Step-off displacement > 2 mm (> 2 to 4 mm hazard ratio (HR) 4.9, > 4 mm HR 5.6) and age > 60 years (HR 2.9) were independent predictors for conversion to THA at follow-up.

Conclusion: Patients with minimally displaced acetabular fractures who opt for nonoperative fracture treatment may be informed that fracture displacement (e.g. gap and step-off) up to 2 mm, as measured on CT images, results in limited risk on conversion to THA. Step-off ≥ 2 mm and age > 60 years are predictors for conversion to THA and can be helpful in the shared decision-making process.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hip Fractures*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinal Fractures*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed