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Acetabular retroversion: functional or anatomical?

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The aim of this study is to evaluate whether acetabular retroversion (AR) represents a structural anatomical abnormality of the pelvis or is a functional phenomenon of pelvic positioning in the sagittal plane, and to what extent the changes that result from patient-specific functional position affect the extent of AR.


A comparative radiological study of 19 patients (38 hips) with AR were compared with a control group of 30 asymptomatic patients (60 hips). CT scans were corrected for rotation in the axial and coronal planes, and the sagittal plane was then aligned to the anterior pelvic plane. External rotation of the hemipelvis was assessed using the superior iliac wing and inferior iliac wing angles as well as quadrilateral plate angles, and correlated with cranial and central acetabular version. Sagittal anatomical parameters were also measured and correlated to version measurements. In 12 AR patients (24 hips), the axial measurements were repeated after matching sagittal pelvic rotation with standing and supine anteroposterior radiographs.


Acetabular version was significantly lower and measurements of external rotation of the hemipelvis were significantly increased in the AR group compared to the control group. The AR group also had increased evidence of anterior projection of the iliac wing in the sagittal plane. The acetabular orientation angles were more retroverted in the supine compared to standing position, and the change in acetabular version correlated with the change in sagittal pelvic tilt. An anterior pelvic tilt of 1° correlated with 1.02° of increased cranial retroversion and 0.76° of increased central retroversion.


This study has demonstrated that patients with symptomatic AR have both an externally rotated hemipelvis and increased anterior projection of the iliac wing compared to a control group of asymptomatic patients. Functional sagittal pelvic positioning was also found to affect AR in symptomatic patients: the acetabulum was more retroverted in the supine position compared to standing position. Changes in acetabular version correlate with the change in sagittal pelvic tilt. These findings should be taken into account by surgeons when planning acetabular correction for AR with periacetabular osteotomy.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2024;106-B(2):128–135.

Correspondence should be sent to Mark Robert John Jenkinson. E-mail:

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