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The plain β-angle measured on radiographs in the assessment of femoroacetabular impingement

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The β-angle is a radiological tool for measuring the distance between the pathological head-neck junction and the acetabular rim with the hip in 90° of flexion in patients with femoroacetabular impingement. Initially it was measured using an open-chamber MRI. We have developed a technique to measure this angle on plain radiographs. Correlation analysis was undertaken to determine the relationship between the range of movement and the β-angle in 50 patients with femoroacetabular impingement and 50 asymptomatic control subjects. Inter- and intra-observer reliability of the β-angle was also evaluated.

Patients with femoroacetabular impingement had a significantly smaller (p < 0.001) mean β-angle (15.6°, 95% confidence interval (CI) 13.3 to 17.7) compared with the asymptomatic group (38.7°, 95% CI 36.5 to 41.0). Correlation between internal rotation and the β-angle was high in the impingement group and moderate in the asymptomatic group. The β-angle had excellent inter- and intra-observer reliability in both groups.

Our findings suggest that the measurement of the β-angle on plain radiography may represent a valid, reproducible and cost-effective alternative to open MRI in the assessment of the pathological bony anatomy in patients with cam, pincer and mixed femoroacetabular impingement.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr A. Brunner; e-mail: a-r.brunner@web.de

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