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Legg-Calve-Perthes' disease. Morphological studies in two cases examined at necropsy

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Specimens of femoral heads were studied at necropsy in two cases of Legg-Calve-Perthes' disease. One was that of a boy aged four years ten months who died from appendicitis; the other was from a boy aged six years who died from a malignant glioma. Both had been treated for one and a half years for Legg-Calve-Perthes' disease which was in a stage of repair at the time of death. The diseased femoral heads were moderately flattened but the surface cartilage was intact. Epiphysial bone and bone marrow were partly replaced by cartilage, fibrous tissue and granulation tissue, and new bone was being formed. Inflammatory reaction was inconspicuous. Enchondral bone formation was only slightly decreased, and the structure of the growth plate was undisturbed. There was no sign of systemic bone disease. In the first case the changes indicated that more than one episode of ischaemia had occurred, and an occlusion--probably from an old thrombus--was demonstrated in the posterior inferior retinacular artery of the femoral head. The last episode of ischaemia, furthermore, had caused infarction of part of the metaphysial bone. In both cases, the central area of the metaphysial bone of the affected femur contained fat, but there were few haemopoietic cells and it therefore looked pale. The findings are discussed in relation to previous work on the pathology in Legg-Calve-Perthes' disease, recent information on the vascularisation of the femoral head in children, and experimental and comparative animal studies.

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