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Title: Acetabulum  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Pelvis, Ischium, Dislocation of hip, Femur, Ilium (bone)
Collection: Bones of the Lower Limb, Bones of the Pelvis, Pelvis
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Acetabulum of pelvis
Pelvic girdle
The acetabulum
Latin Acetabulum
MeSH A02.835.232.611.108
Anatomical terms of bone

The acetabulum (cotyloid cavity) is a concave surface of the pelvis. The head of the femur meets with the pelvis at the acetabulum, forming the hip joint.[1][2]


  • Structure 1
    • Blood supply 1.1
    • In animals 1.2
  • Development 2
  • History 3
  • Additional images 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


There are three bones of the os coxae (hip bone) that come together to form the acetabulum. Contributing a little more than two-fifths of the structure is the ischium, which provides lower and side boundaries to the acetabulum. The ilium forms the upper boundary, providing a little less than two-fifths of the structure of the acetabulum. The rest is formed by the pubis, near the midline.

It is bounded by a prominent uneven rim, which is thick and strong above, and serves for the attachment of the acetabular labrum, which reduces its opening, and deepens the surface for formation of the hip joint. At the lower part of the acetabulum is the acetabular notch, which is continuous with a circular depression, the acetabular fossa, at the bottom of the cavity of the acetabulum. The rest of the acetabulum is formed by a curved, crescent-moon shaped surface, the lunate surface, where the joint is made with the head of the femur. Its counterpart in the pectoral girdle is the glenoid fossa.[3]

The acetabulum is also home to the acetabular notch, an attachment site for the ligamentum teres, a triangular, somewhat flattened band implanted by its apex into the antero-superior part of the fovea capitis femoris. The notch is converted into a foramen by the transverse acetabular ligament; through the foramen nutrient vessels and nerves enter the joint. This is what holds the head of the femur securely in the acetabulum.[1]

The well-fitting surfaces of the femoral head and acetabulum, which face each other, are lined with a layer of slippery tissue called articular cartilage, which is lubricated by a thin film of synovial fluid. Friction inside a normal hip is less than one-tenth that of ice gliding on ice.[4][5]

Blood supply

The acetabular branch of the obturator artery supplies the acetabulum through the acetabular notch. The pubic branches supply the pelvic surface of the acetabulum. Deep branches of the superior gluteal artery supply the superior region and the inferior gluteal artery supplies the postero-inferior region.[6]

In animals

An example of a perforated acetabulum on an ornithischian dinosaur.

In dinosauria clade are defined by a perforate acetabulum, which can be thought of as a "hip-socket". The perforate acetabulum is a cup-shaped opening on each side of the pelvic girdle formed where the ischium, ilium, and pubis all meet, and into which the head of the femur inserts.[7][8] The orientation and position of the acetabulum is one of the main morphological traits that caused dinosaurs to walk in an upright posture with their legs directly underneath their bodies. In a relatively small number of dinosaurs, particularly ankylosaurians (e.g. Texasetes pleurohalio), an imperforate acetabulum is present, which is not an opening, but instead resembles a shallow concave depression on each side of the pelvic girdle.


In infants before complete ossification at the time of skeletal maturation, a 'Y'-shaped epiphyseal plate called the triradiate cartilage exists within the acetabulum.


The word acetabulum literally means "little vinegar cup". It was the Latin word for a small vessel for serving vinegar. The word was later also used as a unit of volume.

Additional images


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. ^ a b Field RE, Rajakulendran K (2011). "The labro-acetabular complex". J Bone Joint Surg Am 94 (Suppl 2): 22-27.  
  2. ^ Griffiths EJ, Khanduja V (2012). "Hip arthroscopy: evolution, current practice and future developments". Int Orthop 36 (6): 1115-1121.  
  3. ^ Petersilge C (2005). "Imaging of the acetabular labrum". Magn Reson Imaging Clin N Am 13 (4): 641-52.  
  4. ^ Balakumar J. "Hip Dysplasia in the Child, Adolescent and Adult". Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  5. ^ OrthoInfo (September 2010). "Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)". the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  6. ^ Itokazu M, Takahashi K, Matsunaga T, Hayakawa D, Emura S, Isono H, Shoumura S (1997). "A study of the arterial supply of the human acetabulum using a corrosion casting method". Clin Anat 10 (2): 77-81.  
  7. ^ Martin, A.J. (2006). Introduction to the Study of Dinosaurs. Second Edition. Oxford, Blackwell Publishing. pg. 299-300. ISBN 1–4051–3413–5.
  8. ^ Smith, Dave. "Dinosauria: Morphology". UC Berkeley. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 

External links

  • Anatomy photo:17:01-0501 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "Major Joints of the Lower Extremity: Hip joint"
  • Anatomy photo:43:os-0407 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "The Female Pelvis: Articulated bones of pelvis"
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