Clinical Research

Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 470, Issue 12, pp 3537-3541

First online:

Cross-sectional Anatomy of the Ilium: Implications for Acetabular Component Placement in Total Hip Arthroplasty

  • John AntoniadesAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedics, University of Maryland School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Vincent D. PellegriniJrAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedics, University of Maryland School of Medicine

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High hip center reconstructions, used in revision and complex primary THAs, rely on pelvic bone stock at least 35 mm above the anatomic teardrop. However, the technique does not restore normal hip biomechanics and controversy exists regarding acetabular implant survival. Previous reports document a wide range of implant positioning above the teardrop. There is no anatomic guidance in the literature regarding the amount of bone stock available for initial implant stability in this area of the ilium.


We therefore determined the thickness of the human ilium and related it to acetabulum cup coverage in high hip center reconstructions.


We sectioned 16 cadaveric hips from the anterior superior iliac spine to the anatomic teardrop in 5-mm increments, then measured the thickness of the ilium for each cross section.


The maximum thickness of 42 ± 9 mm occurred at the dome of the acetabulum 35 ± 3 mm above the teardrop. At a distance of 1 cm above the dome, the ilium was reduced by 24%, to 32 ± 6 mm. At 2 cm above the dome, the ilium thickness was 22 ± 4 mm, a 48% reduction from its maximum.


There are substantial anatomic limitations to high hip reconstructions 2 cm above the acetabular dome.