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Legg-Calvé-Perthes' (Perthes') disease is a developmental disease of the hip joint that may result in numerous short and long term problems. The etiology of the disease remains largely unknown, but the mechanism is believed to be vascular and/or biomechanical in nature. There are several anatomical characteristics that tend to be prevalent in children with Perthes' disease, namely: skeletal immaturity, reduced height, and rostral sparing. We present an overview of the literature, summarizing the current understanding of the pathogenesis, particularly related to how the formation of the vasculature to the femoral epiphysis places children aged 5-8 at a higher risk for Perthes' disease, how skeletal immaturity and rostral sparing could increase the probability of developing Perthes' disease, and how animal models have aided our understanding of the disease. In doing so, we also explore why Perthes' disease is correlated to latitude, with populations at higher latitudes having higher incidence rates than populations closer to the Equator. Finally, we present five hypotheses detailing how Perthes' disease could have a biomechanical cause. Clin. Anat. 29:759-772, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin anat

Publication Date





759 - 772


Allen's and Bergmann's rules, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, animal models, biomechanical causes, etiology, rostral sparing, second-hand smoking, short stature, skeletal immaturity, socioeconomic status, Animals, Epiphyses, Humans, Incidence, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, Skeleton, Socioeconomic Factors, Tobacco Smoke Pollution