Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 468, Issue 10, pp 2814–2818 | Cite as

Case Report: Calcific Tendinitis of the Rectus Femoris: A Rare Cause of Snapping Hip

  • Luca PierannunziiEmail author
  • Filippo Tramontana
  • Mauro Gallazzi
Case Report



Internal snapping hip is a syndrome caused by recurrent subluxation of the iliopsoas tendon. There is little agreement regarding the impinging sites responsible for the jerky motion of the tendon. Thus far, the lesser trochanter, anterior capsule, and iliopectineal eminence are considered the most likely catching sites.

Case Description

We report an unusual case in which a calcific tendinitis of the rectus femoris direct head impinged against the overlying iliacus muscle, resulting in a painful coxa saltans. The exclusive involvement of the direct head hid the calcium deposit on standard radiographs, whereas MRI suggested but poorly showed the tendon disease. Dynamic ultrasonography and CT scanning allowed a precise diagnosis and subsequent treatment with CT-guided steroid injection.

Literature Review

Calcific tendinitis of the rectus anterior direct head has not been reported as a possible cause of snapping hip; involvement of the direct head in rectus anterior calcific tendinitis was described in one case.

Purposes and Clinical Relevance

Our case shows the rectus anterior direct head may be involved in the etiology of coxa saltans. Theoretically any thickening of the tendon might activate the same pathomechanism. Physicians should consider this possible new cause of internal snapping hip when the most common ones have been excluded, especially as it may be managed easily with steroid injection.


Steroid Injection Groin Pain Rectus Femoris Direct Head Ligamentum Teres 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1Ultrasound dynamic transverse scanning is shown during actively controlled extension of the hip from 60° to 20°. When flexion is approximately 45°, the iliacus muscle splits abruptly in two parts: the main belly moves medially over the iliac spine-calcification complex, while the ilioinfratrochanteric bundle diverges laterally, simultaneously with an audible snap. AIIS = anterior inferior iliac spine; Ca = calcification; IITB = ilioinfratrochanteric bundle; IMB = iliacus main belly. (MPG 6910 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons® 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Pierannunzii
    • 1
    Email author
  • Filippo Tramontana
    • 2
  • Mauro Gallazzi
    • 2
  1. 1.III Division of Orthopaedics and TraumaGaetano Pini Orthopaedic InstituteMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of RadiodiagnosticsGaetano Pini Orthopaedic InstituteMilanItaly

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