Avascular Necrosis Treatment

In some cases, persistent hip pain may be caused by avascular necrosis, or osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Avascular necrosis is a condition that results when blood flow to the head of the thigh bone is reduced or stopped, resulting in the death of cells in the bone tissue. This ultimately can cause a debilitating collapse of the femoral head, which constitutes the ball part of the hip.

Avascular necrosis procedures

The primary approach in treating avascular necrosis is to try to stop the progress of the disease and preserve the femoral head. The use of crutches to reduce the weight borne by the hip joint may be considered, but if the condition persists, a procedure called core decompression may be done. In core decompression, your surgeon will drill a hole through the dead tissue into the neck of your femur in an effort to stimulate better blood flow to the bone. In a variation of this procedure, your surgeon may graft a piece of bone from your lower leg into the hole.

As alternatives, there are several types of osteotomy that can be performed. These are surgical procedures to bend the leg in a way that will put less pressure on the damaged bone.

If the disease progresses, your surgeon may recommend a total hip replacement or partial hip replacement.

What to expect from avascular necrosis surgery

Recovery and rehabilitation depend on the treatment used. Core decompression usually requires the patient to use crutches for several weeks. If a bone graft is used in conjunction with the decompression, the recovery period is much longer. Osteotomies generally limit activity for a few months. A total hip replacement often allows patients to begin walking, with support, within days. However, it is standard practice to delay any hip replacement as long as possible, especially in a younger person, since the implants can wear out or loosen and a second hip replacement is often less stable.