Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

Does Removal of Subchondral Cortical Bone Provide Sufficient Resection Depth for Treatment of Cam Femoroacetabular Impingement?

Penny R. Atkins BS, Stephen K. Aoki MD, Ross T. Whitaker PhD, Jeffrey A. Weiss PhD, Christopher L. Peters MD, Andrew E. Anderson PhD



Residual impingement resulting from insufficient resection of bone during the index femoroplasty is the most-common reason for revision surgery in patients with cam-type femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). Development of surgical resection guidelines therefore could reduce the number of patients with persistent pain and reduced ROM after femoroplasty.


We asked whether removal of subchondral cortical bone in the region of the lesion in patients with cam FAI could restore femoral anatomy to that of screened control subjects. To evaluate this, we analyzed shape models between: (1) native cam and screened control femurs to observe the location of the cam lesion and establish baseline shape differences between groups, and (2) cam femurs with simulated resections and screened control femurs to evaluate the sufficiency of subchondral cortical bone thickness to guide resection depth.


Three-dimensional (3-D) reconstructions of the inner and outer cortical bone boundaries of the proximal femur were generated by segmenting CT images from 45 control subjects (29 males; 15 living subjects, 30 cadavers) with normal radiographic findings and 28 nonconsecutive patients (26 males) with a diagnosis of cam FAI based on radiographic measurements and clinical examinations. Correspondence particles were placed on each femur and statistical shape modeling (SSM) was used to create mean shapes for each cohort. The geometric difference between the mean shape of the patients with cam FAI and that of the screened controls was used to define a consistent region representing the cam lesion. Subchondral cortical bone in this region was removed from the 3-D reconstructions of each cam femur to create a simulated resection. SSM was repeated to determine if the resection produced femoral anatomy that better resembled that of control subjects. Correspondence particle locations were used to generate mean femur shapes and evaluate shape differences using principal component analysis.


In the region of the cam lesion, the median distance between the mean native cam and control femurs was 1.8 mm (range, 1.0–2.7 mm). This difference was reduced to 0.2 mm (range, −0.2 to 0.9 mm) after resection, with some areas of overresection anteriorly and underresection superiorly. In the region of resection for each subject, the distance from each correspondence particle to the mean control shape was greater for the cam femurs than the screened control femurs (1.8 mm, [range, 1.1–2.9 mm] and 0.0 mm [range, −0.2–0.1 mm], respectively; p < 0.031). After resection, the distance was not different between the resected cam and control femurs (0.3 mm; range, −0.2–1.0; p > 0.473).


Removal of subchondral cortical bone in the region of resection reduced the deviation between the mean resected cam and control femurs to within a millimeter, which resulted in no difference in shape between patients with cam FAI and control subjects. Collectively, our results support the use of the subchondral cortical-cancellous bone margin as a visual intraoperative guide to limit resection depth in the correction of cam FAI.

Clinical Relevance

Use of the subchondral cortical-cancellous bone boundary may provide a method to guide the depth of resection during arthroscopic surgery, which can be observed intraoperatively without advanced tooling, or imaging.

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