Tears of the Ligamentum Teres: Prevalence in Hip Arthroscopy Using 2 Classification Systems


Background: The ligamentum teres (LT) anatomy has been known for many years. While its functionality remains debatable, it is well recognized that the LT can be a source of pain in the hip joint. In 1997, a landmark publication by Gray and Villar established a classification for LT tears and increased the awareness of LT disorders. However, the incidence of LT tears and the various tear types is unknown.

Purpose: The authors report the prevalence of LT tears in a population of patients who underwent hip arthroscopy, using both the Gray and Villar classification and a new descriptive classification.

Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: Between February 2008 and January 2011, 616 hip arthroscopies were performed by the senior author. After excluding revision surgeries, a total of 558 surgeries (502 patients) were included in the study. Data were collected regarding patients' demographics, mechanism of injury, range of motion, magnetic resonance results, and intraoperative findings. Preoperative hip-specific questionnaire scores and pain level were recorded as well. Ligamentum teres tears were classified according to Gray and Villar's classification, and were also categorized using a descriptive grading system as follows: 0, no tear; 1, <50% tear; 2, >50% tear; or 3, 100% tear.

Results: A total of 284 (51%) of the 558 surgeries in this cohort revealed LT tears. According to the descriptive grading system, 22% were grade 1, 24% were grade 2, and 5% were grade 3. According to the Gray and Villar classification 3.7% had full rupture, 43% had a partial tear, and 4.5% had a degenerative tear. Patients with LT tears were significantly older and had worse preoperative functional scores; they did, however, have a greater range of motion. Intraoperatively, an association with larger labral tear size and acetabular chondral damage was found. Magnetic resonance arthrography was found to have low accuracy and sensitivity in detection of LT tears. No correlation to the pain level was found.

Conclusion: Ligamentum teres tears had a higher prevalence in this study than was published in the past, most probably attributable to a lower threshold used in defining a tear. The incidence is defined both using the Gray and Villar classification, as well as a new descriptive classification system that categorizes the LT according to amount of tearing.

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