What is Avascular Necrosis of the Hip?

Avascular necrosis of the hip occurs when the femoral head (ball of the hip joint) loses is blood supply. Depending on the amount of the femoral head involved the ball may collapse causing ongoing pain and disability. There are many causes of avascular necrosis including steroid medication, alcohol, irradiation, leukaemia, lymphoma, decompression sickness (“the bends”), hypercoagulable states, viruses such as hepatitis, sickle cell disease, SLE, transplant patients and trauma. Sometimes however no cause is apparent.

What are the Symptoms?

Pain, typically in the groin, may present gradually. Walking up stairs or inclines may be uncomfortable. In advanced stages the symptoms are similar to osteoarthritis.

What is the Treatment?

Bisphosphonate medication (often used in osteoporosis) can be used for patients prior to collapse of the head. Surgical treatment options include core decompression (drilling), osteotomy, or bone grafting in early or small lesions with varying results. Total hip replacement is often required.