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Abstract

Genetic hemochromatosis, a disorder of iron metabolism, results in the deposition of massive amounts of iron in the tissues. Arthropathy is one of a number of clinical features associated with the disease. Characteristic radiographic features in the wrist and hand have been reported, and an increased incidence of severe hip disease has been observed. In this study, hip radiographs of 112 patients with genetic hemochromatosis and arthritis were reviewed, and histologic examination of 2 femoral heads was performed. Twenty-eight of the 112 patients (25%) had evidence of arthritis of the hip joint. In 23 (82%) of the 28 patients, this feature was thought to be associated with osteoarthritis; 2 of these patients had an atypical arthropathy associated with radiolucency of the femoral head and histologic features of atypical stripping of the cartilage from the subchondral bone. These atypical features were not thought to be due to avascular necrosis, pyrophosphate-associated arthropathy, apatite-associated deposition arthritis, or osteoarthritis, but may be typical of genetic hemochromatosis and possibly the result of increased susceptibility to shearing forces at the bone–cartilage interface. In 5 of the 28 patients (18%), chondrocalcinosis was the sole abnormal finding on radiography. Ten of the 28 patients eventually required hip surgery, which confirms the severity of the hip disease associated with genetic hemochromatosis.