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Thread: Legg-Calve-Perthes disease - Overview

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    Thumbs up Legg-Calve-Perthes disease - Overview

    Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

    Perthes is a condition in children characterized by a temporary loss of blood supply to the hip. Without an adequate blood supply, the rounded head of the femur (the " ball " of the " ball and socket " joint of the hip) dies. The area becomes intensely inflamed and irritated.

    Although the term 'disease' is still used, Perthes is really a complex process of stages. Treatment of Perthes may require periods of immobilization or limitations on usual activities. The long-term prognosis is good in most cases. After 18 months to 2 years of treatment, most children return to normal activities without major limitations.

    Perthes disease usually is seen in children between 4 years and 10 years of age. It is five times more common in boys than in girls. It was originally described nearly a century ago as a peculiar form of childhood arthritis of the hips.


    How does this problem develop?

    Perthes disease results when the blood supply to the capital femoral epiphysis is blocked. There are many theories about what causes this problem with the blood supply, yet none have been proven. There appears to be some relationship to nutrition. Children who are malnourished are more likely to develop this condition.

    Children who have abnormal blood clotting also have a higher risk of developing Perthes disease. These children have blood that clots easier and quicker than normal. This may lead to blood clotting that blocks the small arteries going to the femoral head. Interestingly, there is little evidence that Perthes disease is genetic, and there is no increase in risk for children whose parent had Perthes disease as a child.

    Perthes disease may affect both hips. In fact, 10 to 12 percent of the time the condition is bilateral (meaning that it affects both hips).


    What does this problem feel like?

    Most children with Perthes disease develop discomfort in the hip and walk with a limp. Children will not usually complain of pain unless specifically asked. The most common way that the disease is discovered is when someone, usually a parent, notices the limp and consults a physician.

    When the doctor examines the hip, the motion of the hip is abnormal and restricted. Turning the leg inward produces pain. This usually indicates that the hip is inflamed and may have inflammatory fluid (called an effusion) present in the hip joint.

    Interestingly, problems in the hip sometimes do not cause pain in the hip itself. The knee is where the pain is felt. This can be confusing both to patients and physicians. In general, a child with knee pain (who has no clear-cut reason to have knee pain), or an abnormal gait, should be examined for possible Perthes disease. This usually includes X-rays of the hips to make sure that Perthes disease is not missed.

    The main problem with Perthes disease is that it changes the structure of the hip joint. How much it affects the way the hip joint works depends on how much the hip joint is deformed. Problems later in life are more likely the greater the deformity after the condition has healed.

    In general, the most common problem later in life is the development of arthritis in the hip joint. The type of arthritis that develops in the hip is osteoarthritis (also known as wear and tear arthritis). Just like a machine that is out of balance, the hip joint wears out and becomes painful.

    In some cases, surgery will be required to obtain adequate containment. Sometimes, adequate motion cannot be regained with traction and physical therapy alone. If the condition is longstanding, the muscles may have contracted or shrunk and cannot be stretched back out. To help restore motion, the surgeon may recommend a tenotomy of the contracted muscles. When a tenotomy is performed, the tendon of the muscle that is overly tight is cut and lengthened. This is a simple procedure that requires only a small incision. The tendon eventually scars down in the lengthened position, and no functional loss is noticeable.

    Surgical treatment for containment may be best in older children who are not compliant with brace treatment or where the psychological effects of wearing braces may outweigh the benefits. Surgical containment does not require long-term braces or casts. Once the procedure has been performed and the bones have healed, the child can pursue normal activities as tolerated.

    Surgical treatment for containment usually consists of procedures that realign either the femur (thighbone), the acetabulum (hip socket), or both.

    Realignment of the femur is called a femoral osteotomy. This procedure changes the angle of the femoral neck so that the femoral head points more towards the socket. To perform this procedure, an incision is made in the side of the thigh. The bone of the femur is cut and realigned in a new position. A large metal plate and screws are then inserted to hold the bones in the new position until the bone has healed. The plate and screws may need to be removed once the bone has healed.

    Realignment of the acetabulum is called a pelvic osteotomy. This procedure changes the angle of the acetabulum (socket) so that it better covers, or contains, the femoral head. To perform this procedure, an incision is made in the side of the buttock. The bone of the pelvis is cut and realigned in a new position. Large metal pins or screws are then inserted to hold the bones in the new position until the bone has healed. The pins usually must be removed once the bone has healed.

    If there is a serious structural change in the anatomy of the hip, there may need to be further surgery to restore the alignment closer to normal. This is usually not considered until growth stops. As a child grows, there will be some remodeling that occurs in the hip joint. This may improve the situation such that further surgery is unnecessary.

    In severe cases, both femoral osteotomy and pelvic osteotomy may be combined to obtain even more containment.


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    Last edited by trimurtulu; 02-25-2009 at 09:50 AM.

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    Very informative..thanks

  3. #3
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    thank you

  4. #4
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    Thank you!
    I had this disease at 9 years old and I had a surgical operation.
    Now I'm 40 years old, and I have a few probs, I think it's a beginning of arthrosis. I have to go to my doctor...

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