Epiphyseal cortical irregularity

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 3 Apr 2023

An epiphyseal cortical irregularity is an anatomical variant featuring a fragmented appearance of the distal femoral epiphysis in children.

Epiphyseal cortical irregularity is a rare finding, accounting for 6.7% of all incidental findings on a knee radiograph series 1.

It has a higher prevalence in young children of less than 5 years and it has not been described in children aged 10 years and above 1.

Delayed ossification is attributed as a possible cause for this condition 1.

This is an asymptomatic anatomical variant.

Plain radiographs are the modality of choice to confirm this diagnosis and may show:

  • irregular margins with a fragmented appearance of the distal femoral epiphysis, more commonly involving the medial side

  • minimal beaking or fragmentation at the edge of the metaphyses 2

It may show hyperechoic lines and spurs inside the epiphyseal cartilage, arising from the ossfied center.

Epiphyseal cortical irregularity tend to disappear on imaging follow-up. Therefore, it does not require further evaluation nor treatment 1.

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