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Photographic measurement of the inclination of the acetabular component in total hip replacement using the posterior approach

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The angle of inclination of the acetabular component in total hip replacement is a recognised contributing factor in dislocation and early wear. During non-navigated surgery, insertion of the acetabular component has traditionally been performed at an angle of 45° relative to the sagittal plane as judged by the surgeon’s eye, the operative inclination. Typically, the method used to assess inclination is the measurement made on the postoperative anteroposterior radiograph, the radiological inclination.

The aim of this study was to measure the intra-operative angle of inclination of the acetabular component on 60 consecutive patients in the lateral decubitus position when using a posterior approach during total hip replacement. This was achieved by taking intra-operative photographs of the acetabular inserter, representing the acetabular axis, and a horizontal reference. The results were compared with the post-operative radiological inclination.

The mean post-operative radiological inclination was 13° greater than the photographed operative inclination, which was unexpectedly high. It appears that in the lateral decubitus position with a posterior approach, the uppermost hemipelvis adducts, thus reducing the apparent operative inclination. Surgeons using the posterior approach in lateral decubitus need to aim for a lower operative inclination than when operating with the patient supine in order to achieve an acceptable radiological inclination.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr J. C. Hill; e-mail: janet.hill@belfasttrust.hscni.net

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