OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine the effects of activity and cam morphology on cartilage composition during adolescence and investigate the development of cartilage composition with age. DESIGN: Cross-sectional observational cohort study of individuals from football club academies and an age-matched control population, aged 9 to 18 years. Assessments included questionnaires and T2-mapping of hips. Primary imaging outcome measures were T2 relaxation time of acetabular and femoral cartilage, average alpha angle, and lateral epiphyseal extension. RESULTS: The cohort consisted of 109 elite male footballers, 49 male controls, and 51 female controls. Elite male footballers had an acetabular cartilage T2 value 4.85 ms greater than male controls (P < 0.001). A significant positive correlation existed between Physical Activity Questionnaire Score and acetabular cartilage T2 value (coefficient 1.07, P < 0.001) and femoral cartilage T2 value (coefficient 0.66, P = 0.032). Individuals with a closed physis had an acetabular cartilage T2 value 7.86 ms less than individuals with an open physis. Acetabular cartilage T2 values decreased with age in elite footballers. No correlation existed between alpha angle and anterosuperior acetabular cartilage T2 value and no difference in T2 value existed between individuals with and without cam morphology. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that high activity levels may significantly affect acetabular cartilage composition during adolescence, but cam morphology may not detrimentally affect cartilage composition until after adolescence.
T2-mapping, adolescence, cam morphology, hip