Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Two of the boys in our family (my sister's son and my brother's son) have Perthes hip disease. What are the chances our children (I'm the youngest sibling) will have this problem?

Legg-Perthes Disease (Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease) is caused by the loss of blood flow to the femoral head. Without adequate blood flow, the bone begins to die. There is a deterioration or flattening of the femoral head and neck. It can destroy the hip joint. It is not known what causes the disease. It could be caused by trauma. Genetics and heredity may be a factor but do not appear to be the determining factor in the development of Legg-Perthes disease. It is possible that chromosomal mutations may play a part but this hasn't been proven yet. When heredity is a factor, Perthes usually affects the male line. Scientists are also looking at endocrine, nutritional, and socioeconomic factors that may contribute to the development of this condition. Recent research has identified cellular changes in the resting chondrocytes (cartilage cells). An increase in lipid (fat) cell formation may be a link in the process of cartilage degeneration that occurs. The exact meaning of this discovery isn't known yet. More studies are needed to uncover the cellular changes and process that occur with Perthes disease.

Hiroshi Kitoh, MD, et al. A Histological and Ultrastructural Study of the Iliac Crest Apophysis in Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease. In Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. June 2008. Vol. 28. No. 4. Pp. 435-439.

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