The correct adjustment of leg length is a major goal in the implantation of total hip replacements (THRs). Differences in leg length can lead to functional impairment and patient dissatisfaction. By determining leg length at an early stage, before the patient is discharged from hospital, compensatory measures such as the production of special insoles or orthopaedic footwear can be initiated promptly if there is a difference in leg length. Due to shortening of the period of time spent in hospital, the traditional measurement of leg length in a standing position may be increasingly subject to error. A protective posture immediately after surgery or the presence of a twisted pelvis, for example, due to scoliotic spinal misalignments, falsifies the measurement result in the standing position. Here, the measurement of leg length in the supine position may prove to be accurate immediately postoperatively, regardless of potential sources of error, and is to be compared with measurement in the standing position versus radiological measurement on the AP pelvic survey.
Material and methods
The present retrospective study included 190 patients who had undergone primary total hip arthroplasty. The leg length difference (LLD) of the patients was determined pre- and postoperatively both in the supine and standing position and compared with the postoperative radiological pelvic survey image.
Postoperatively, it was shown that the mean length measured was 0.35 mm too long in the supine position and 0.68 mm too short in the standing position (p value < 0.001). Determination of the average absolute measurement error produces a deviation of 4.06 mm in the standing and 4.51 mm in the supine position (p value 0.126).
It is shown that the postoperative measurement of LLD in the supine and standing position is equally valid and sufficiently accurate, compared with the gold standard of measurement on a radiograph.