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The blood supply of the lateral epiphyseal arteries in Perthes’ disease

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We performed superselective angiography in 28 hips in 25 patients with Perthes’ disease in order to study the blood supply of the lateral epiphyseal arteries (LEAs). Interruption of the LEAs at their origin was observed in 19 hips (68%). Revascularisation in the form of numerous small arteries was seen in ten out of 11 hips in the initial stage of Perthes’ disease, in seven of eight in the fragmentation stage and in five of nine in the healing stage. Penetration of mature arteries into the depths of the epiphysis was seen in four of nine hips in the healing stage. Vascular penetration was absent in the weight-bearing portion of the femoral head below the acetabular roof. Interruption of the posterior column artery was seen where it passed through the capsule in seven hips when they lay either in internal rotation or in abduction with internal rotation.

We suggest that in Perthes’ disease the blood supply of the LEAs is impaired at their origin and that revascularisation occurs from this site by ingrowth of small vessels into the femoral epiphysis. This process may be the result of recurrent ischaemic episodes.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr T. Atsumi.

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