Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis is a condition commonly affecting the hip. The blood supply to the ball of the hip joint is interrupted and the bone in this area dies. This can affect either a small or large part of the ball. There are many possible causes of this problem but in most cases no specific cause is identified.

Avascular necrosis can cause intense pain even in the early stages when there are no changes on x-ray. In this early stage the diagnosis can be made either with a bone scan or MRI.

In the early stages before there are changes on x-ray there are a number of treatments, including drug treatments, which are aimed at preventing further progress of the avascular necrosis.

As the disease progresses there is collapse of the bone in the ball of the hip. Once this happens and the ball is no longer round, it can start to wear away the bone on the cup side as well.

Once there has been collapse of the bone in the ball of the hip the only effective treatment is hip replacement. In most cases this should be done without undue delay to prevent damage to the cup side of the hip which can make surgery more technically challenging.