Background: The prognosis for children in whom Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease develops before the age of six years was initially reported to be good, but later studies demonstrated a less favorable prognosis. To assess the natural history of this condition in this age group, we reviewed a large cohort of children who had received minimal treatment for the disease.
Methods: The medical records and radiographs of all children with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease seen at our institution between 1944 and 2000 were reviewed. The cases of 172 patients with a total of 188 affected hips were studied. The course of the disease and the final clinical and radiographic outcomes were evaluated in all patients.
Results: Typical Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease was noted in 164 hips of 160 patients. According to the lateral patellar classification, seven of these hips were in group A; 101, in group B; twenty-seven, in the B/C border group; and twenty-nine, in group C. According to the Stulberg classification, there were 131 Class-I or II (good) results, fourteen Class-III (fair) results, and nineteen Class-IV (poor) results. The lateral pillar classification was highly correlated with the outcome, whereas treatment did not correlate with the outcome. Only lateral pillar group-B/C border and C hips with an onset of the disease between the ages of four years and five years and eleven months had a poor prognosis. We unexpectedly encountered a group of twelve patients with bilateral, simultaneous development of apparent Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. In that group, there were twenty-one Stulberg Class-I or II (good), three Stulberg Class-III (fair), and no Stulberg Class-IV (poor) results, although fourteen of the twenty-four hips were in lateral pillar group C. The outcome in the hips in lateral pillar group C was significantly better when the patient had bilateral simultaneous involvement than when the patient had typical Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease.
Conclusions: The prognosis for patients with the onset of Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease before the age of six years is favorable, with 80% having a good result. Only children between the ages of four years and five years and eleven months with a B/C or C lateral pillar classification of involvement have a less favorable prognosis. Treatment was not found to influence outcome. Simultaneous bilateral disease, which had a more favorable prognosis, may represent a unique disorder.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, division, center, clinical practice, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors, or a member of their immediate families, are affiliated or associated.
Investigation performed at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Dallas, Texas
- Copyright © 2007 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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