Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Our five-year old son was just diagnosed with Legg-Perthes' disease. So far he's only had X-rays taken. Would an MRI offer any better information at this point?

Treatment for this condition of temporary blood loss to the head of the femur (thigh bone) depends on the condition of the hip. Any imaging study that can show the shape of the femoral head and locate any partial or full dislocations would be helpful.

An MRI is useful because it clearly shows all three parts of the child's femoral head. The very top of the bone that fits into the hip socket is called the epiphysis.

Just below the epiphysis is the physis. This is the growth center of the femur. It's here that bone forming cells help the bone grow in length.

The third portion is the metaphysis, the upper part of the femoral neck. Any softening or spongy changes in this area shows a loss of blood supply. An MRI can show if the blood supply has been cut off to one, two, or all three parts of the bone.

M. Kamegaya, MD, et al. A Proposed Prognostic Formula for Perthes' Disease. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. November 2005. No. 440. Pp. 205-208.

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