An in vitro investigation of the acetabular labral seal in hip joint mechanics

S.J. Ferguson, J.T. Bryant, R. Ganz, K. Ito

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413 Citations (Scopus)


Labrum pathology may contribute to early joint degeneration through the alteration of load transfer between, and the stresses within, the cartilage layers of the hip. We hypothesize that the labrum seals the hip joint, creating a hydrostatic fluid pressure in the intra-articular space, and limiting the rate of cartilage layer consolidation. The overall cartilage creep consolidation of six human hip joints was measured during the application of a constant load of 0.75 times bodyweight, or a cyclic sinusoidal load of 0.75±0.25 times bodyweight, before and after total labrum resection. The fluid pressure within the acetabular was measured. Following labrum resection, the initial consolidation rate was 22% greater (p=0.02) and the final consolidation displacement was 21% greater (p=0.02). There was no significant difference in the final consolidation rate. Loading type (constant vs. cyclic) had no significant effect on the measured consolidation behaviour. Fluid pressurisation was observed in three of the six hips. The average pressures measured were: for constant loading, 541±61 kPa in the intact joint and 216±165 kPa following labrum resection, for cyclic loading, 550±56 kPa in the intact joint and 195±145 kPa following labrum resection. The trends observed in this experiment support the predictions of previous finite element analyses. Hydrostatic fluid pressurisation within the intra-articular space is greater with the labrum than without, which may enhance joint lubrication. Cartilage consolidation is quicker without the labrum than with, as the labrum adds an extra resistance to the flow path for interstitial fluid expression. However, both sealing mechanisms are dependent on the fit of the labrum against the femoral head.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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