BACKGROUND: The direct anterior approach in THA requires no detachment of muscle insertions. However, damage to the short external rotator muscles may occur when attempting to elevate the femur for exposure. Although the anatomic insertions of these muscles are approximately known, there are no quantitative data regarding their locations.
QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: We therefore asked where and how the tendons attach to the inner aspect of the greater trochanter.
METHODS: In 20 cadaveric hips we identified the attachments of the short external rotator tendons on the medial aspect of the greater trochanter. Mapping of the attachment site was performed by defining coordinate axes; the total width and height of the greater trochanter represented 100% and distances of the attachment from the anteroinferior reference point were given.
RESULTS: The mean anterior border location of the conjoined tendon (obturator internus, gemellus superior, and gemellus inferior) attachment was located at 29% (13 mm from the anteroinferior reference point), its posterior border at 53% (23 mm), its mean superior border at 70% (15 mm), and its mean inferior border at 24% (5 mm). The mean anterior border of the piriformis tendon attachment was located at 57% (25 mm), its mean posterior border at 78% (34 mm), its mean superior border at 64% (17 mm), and its inferior border at 55% (12 mm). There was considerable variation in these attachment sites among individuals.
CONCLUSIONS: The insertion of the conjoined tendon extends to the anterosuperior aspect of the greater trochanter. Together with the considerable variation of the attachment site, external rotator muscles remain at risk of being damaged during the capsular release.
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