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Predicting growth plate orientation with altered hip loading: potential cause of cam morphology

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Abstract

Proximal femoral deformities can result from altered hip joint loading patterns during growth. The growth plate hyaline cartilage has low resistance to shear stress. Therefore, we hypothesized that the growth plate orients in a direction which minimizes the shear stress on its surface. A finite element model of the proximal femur was generated with a simplified flat growth plate. Hip joint forces were estimated for standing upright and standing in hip flexion. We also parametrically studied the effects of posteriorly and laterally directed loads. An algorithm was developed to predict the shape of the femoral growth plate in a plane of minimum shear (along the principal stress vectors). To characterize and compare the growth plate shapes, we represented the distance from the growth plate to a reference plane as a two-dimensional contour plot, providing information of shape and orientation across the entire surface. We also assessed the clinical measures of growth plate shape to compare our predicted growth plates with previous clinical studies data. The shape of the growth plate predicted for an upright standing load correlated closely with morphological properties of the growth plane of a typically developing child. The shape of the growth plate predicted for femoral hip flexion force was similar to the growth plate in subjects with cam morphology, a hip shape that has documented growth plate changes. The model proposed here allows for investigation of the relation between joint forces and growth plate shape, which will help predict the development of bony deformities.

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Correspondence to Sandra J. Shefelbine.

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Sadeghian, S.M., Lewis, C.L. & Shefelbine, S.J. Predicting growth plate orientation with altered hip loading: potential cause of cam morphology. Biomech Model Mechanobiol 19, 701–712 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10237-019-01241-2

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