Measurement Techniques for Leg Length Discrepancy in Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review of Reliability and Validity



      Total hip arthroplasty (THA) carries a substantial litigative burden. THA may introduce leg length discrepancy (LLD), necessitating a valid and reliable technique for LLD measurement. This study investigates the reliability and validity of techniques quantitively measuring LLD in both pre- and post-THA.


      Embase and MEDLINE databases were searched following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines for articles assessing either the validity or reliability of LLD measurement techniques. Data was pooled using random effects meta-analysis to derive reliability estimates. Study quality was assessed using the Brink and Louw checklist.


      Forty-two articles with 2059 participants were included. Thirty-three investigated reliability and 25 validity. Reliability displayed high heterogeneity. Poor to excellent intra-rater reliability was reported for antero-posterior pelvis radiographs, moderate to excellent for computed tomography scanograms, and good to excellent for clinical methods and teleradiography, and excellent for bi-planar radiography (BPR). Poor to excellent inter-rater reliability was reported for antero-posterior pelvis radiographs and clinical methods, moderate to excellent for teleradiography, good to excellent for computed tomography scanogram and excellent for BPR. The tape measure method is a valid clinical measure of LLD whilst markerless motion analysis and the block method are not. Imaging techniques are appropriately cross-validated with the exception of BPR.


      The reported intra- and inter-rater reliability for most measurement techniques vary widely. The tape measure method is a valid clinical measurement of LLD. Imaging techniques have been appropriately cross-validated, with the exception of BPR, although they lack validation against a common reference technique.


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