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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The innervation of the human acetabular labrum and hip joint: an anatomic study

Abdullah Alzaharani, Kamal Bali, Ravi Gudena, Pamela Railton, Dragana Ponjevic, John R Matyas and James N Powell*

Author Affiliations

Orthopedic Trauma & Lower Extremity Reconstruction, 3134 Hospital Drive N.W, Calgary, Alberta T2N 5A1, Canada

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:41  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-41

Published: 14 February 2014



The aim of the current study was to evaluate the innervation of the acetabular labrum in the various zones and to understand its potential role in nociception and proprioception in hips with labral pathology.


A total of twenty hip labrums were tagged and excised intraoperatively from patients undergoing a total hip replacement. After preparation, the specimens were cut to a thickness of 10 μm and divided into four quadrants (zones) using a clock face pattern. Neurosensory structure distribution was then evaluated using Hematoxylin and Eosin (H and E), and immunoreactivity to S-100.


All specimens had abundant free nerve endings (FNEs). These were seen predominantly superficially and on the chondral side of the labrum. In addition, predominantly three different types of nerve end organs (NEOs) were identified in all twenty specimens. FNEs and NEOs were more frequently seen in the antero-superior and postero-superior zones. Four specimens had abundant vascularity and disorganised architecture of FNEs in the deeper zones of the antero-superior quadrant suggestive of a healed tear. Myofibroblasts were present in abundance in all the labral specimens and were distributed uniformly throughout all labral zones and depth.


The current study shows that the human acetabular labrum has abundant FNEs and NEOs. These are more abundant in the antero-superior and postero-superior zones. The labrum, by virtue of its neural innervation, can potentially mediate pain as well as proprioception of the hip joint, and be involved in neurosecretion that can influence connective tissue repair.

Labrum; Innervation; Femoro-acetabular impingement; Hip arthroscopy; Labral tear