World J Orthop 2019 Mar 18;10(3):145-165. Epub 2019 Mar 18.
Department of General Surgery and Medical Surgical Specialties, Section of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, University Hospital Policlinico-Vittorio Emanuele, University of Catania, Catania 95100, Italy.
Background: Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (LCPD) is a clinical condition affecting the femoral head of children during their growth. Its prevalence is set to be between 0.4/100000 to 29.0/100000 children less than 15 years of age with a peak of incidence in children aged from 4 years to 8 years. LCPD aetiology has been widely studied, but it is still poorly understood.
Aim: To analyse the available literature to document the up-to-date evidence on LCPD aetiology.
Methods: A systematic review of the literature was performed regarding LCPD aetiology, using the following inclusion criteria: studies of any level of evidence, reporting clinical or preclinical results and dealing with the aetiology or pathogenesis of LCPD. Two reviewers searched the PubMed and Science Direct databases from their date of inception to the 20th of May 2018 in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systemic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. To achieve the maximum sensitivity of the search strategy, we combined the terms: ''Perthes disease OR LCPD OR children avascular femoral head necrosis" with "pathology OR aetiology OR biomechanics OR genetics" as either key words or MeSH terms.
Results: We include 64 articles in this review. The available evidence on LCPD aetiology is still debated. Several hypotheses have been researched, but none of them was found decisive. While emerging evidence showed the role of environmental risk factors and evidence from twin studies did not support a major role for genetic factors, a congenital or acquired predisposition cannot be excluded in disease pathogenesis. One of the most supported theories involved mechanical induced ischemia that evolved into avascular necrosis of the femoral head in sensible patients.
Conclusion: The literature available on the aetiology of LCPD presents major limitations in terms of great heterogeneity and a lack of high-profile studies. Although a lot of studies focused on the genetic, biomechanical and radiological background of the disease, there is a lack of consensus on one or multiple major actors of the etiopathogenesis. More studies are needed to understand the complex and multifactorial genesis of the avascular necrosis characterizing the disease.