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Background: Heterotopic bone formation is a well-established complication of major hip surgery, but traditional reviews of the published literature may have underestimated its frequency. Methods: A systematic overview of all the relevant studies was performed to determine reliably the incidence of any heterotopic bone formation and the incidence of each Brooker equivalent grade. Separate estimates were made for patients with total hip replacement and patients with acetabular fracture repair. Results: A computer-based search identified 218 studies with data on the incidence of heterotopic bone formation after either hip replacement or acetabular fracture repair. These studies included data from an estimated 59 121 operated hips among patients that received total hip replacement and an estimated 998 hips among patients that underwent acetabular fracture repair. In these studies, the incidence of any heterotopic bone formation was 43% after total hip replacement and 51% after acetabular fracture repair. The incidence of severe heterotopic bone formation was 9% and 19%, respectively. Conclusions: These results suggest that heterotopic bone formation occurs more frequently after total hip replacement than is generally believed. It is possible that heterotopic bone formation is a more important cause of postoperative disability than has previously been recognized and that effective prophylactic regimens might improve outcome in substantial numbers of patients.

Original publication




Journal article


ANZ Journal of Surgery

Publication Date





808 - 821