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Avascular Necrosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention: Surgery

Jul 26, 2023

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Causes of Avascular Necrosis

Symptoms Of Avascular Necrosis

Risk Factors

Diagnosis Of Avascular Necrosis

Treatment Of Avascular Necrosis



Prevention Of Avascular Necrosis

Avascular Necrosis Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention Surgery

Avascular necrosis is the term used to describe the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood flow. It is also referred to as osteonecrosis and can cause small fractures and bone loss. 

A fractured bone or displaced joint might block the blood flow to a section of bone. Avascular necrosis is also associated with severe alcohol use and long-term use of steroid medications at high doses.

Anybody could be harmed. However, the disease is most prevalent in those between the ages of 30 and 50.

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Causes of Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis results from the interruption or reduction of blood supply to a bone. Reduced blood flow can happen as a result of:

  • A fracture or joint damage. An injury, such as a dislocated joint, may affect the blood vessels in the area. Bone deterioration and blood vessel damage are potential side effects of radiation-based cancer therapy.
  • Fat accumulation in blood vessels. Lipids from fat have the potential to block small blood vessels. This could decrease blood supply to the bones.
  • Some medical conditions. In addition, diseases like sickle cell anaemia and Gaucher's disease can restrict blood supply to the bone.
  • In cases where avascular necrosis is not brought on by trauma, the actual cause is sometimes unknown. Genetics, excessive alcohol consumption, certain medicines, and other disorders likely play a role in combination.

Symptoms Of Avascular Necrosis

In certain people, the early signs of avascular necrosis may not be present. As the condition progresses, affected joints may only hurt when you put weight on them. At some point, you might even experience pain while lying down.

The intensity of discomfort varies greatly. Usually, it happens gradually. Hip avascular necrosis can result in pain that is mostly felt in the buttock, groin, or thigh. In addition to the hip, the shoulder, knee, wrist, and foot may also be affected.

For instance, some people get avascular necrosis in both of their hips or knees.

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Risk Factors

The following are danger signs of avascular necrosis:

  • Trauma. Injury-related blood vessel damage can reduce blood supply to the bones and result in fractures or dislocations of the hip.
  • Using Steroids. Prednisone and other high-dose corticosteroids are frequently responsible for avascular necrosis. Although the exact explanation is unknown, some professionals hypothesise that corticosteroids may increase blood lipid levels and reduce blood flow.
  • Consuming Alcohol in Excess. After several years of ingesting numerous alcoholic beverages each day, fatty deposits might also form in blood arteries.
  • Use of Bisphosphonates. Long-term use of bone density-enhancing medications may increase the chance of developing jaw osteonecrosis.
  • This unusual side effect occurred in a small number of people using high doses of these medications for cancers such multiple myeloma and metastatic breast cancer.
  • Specialised techniques in medicine. Radiation therapy for cancer may damage bones. Organ transplants, especially kidney transplants, are frequently associated with avascular necrosis.

Avascular necrosis has been connected to the following medical conditions:

  • HIV/AIDS, Gaucher's disease, and pancreatitis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Anaemia aplastic
  • Divers' disease or the bends, often known as decompression illness, certain malignancies, including leukaemia

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Diagnosis Of Avascular Necrosis

A doctor will press on your joints during a physical examination to feel for any tenderness. Additionally, they may move the joints into various postures to determine whether the range of motion is reduced.

Image tests

Joint pain can be brought on by a variety of conditions. Imaging examinations can assist in locating the pain's origin. Some tests might be:

  • X-rays. In the advanced phases of avascular necrosis, they can show abnormalities in the bone. During initial staged xrays aapers to be normal.
  • A CT scan and an MRI. Avascular necrosis may be indicated by early alterations in the bone that are revealed by the tests' finely detailed pictures.
  • Scan of the bones. Into a vein is injected a little quantity of radioactive substance. The afflicted bones are reached by this tracer.

Treatment Of Avascular Necrosis

The goal is to stop additional bone deterioration.


Some drugs may help with symptoms in the early stages of avascular necrosis:

  • NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Avascular necrosis-related discomfort may be reduced by over-the-counter painkillers such naproxen sodium (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, among others). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) with higher potencies are available on prescription.
  • Medications for Osteoporosis. Although the evidence is conflicting, some drugs may slow the development of avascular necrosis.
  • Medications that reduce Cholesterol. Blood vessel obstructions that might result in avascular necrosis may be prevented by lowering blood cholesterol and fat levels.
  • Medications that Dilate Blood Vessels. Iloprost (Ventavis) may improve blood flow to the injured bone. Additional research is required.
  • Clotting Agents. Blood thinners for clotting problems, such as warfarin (Jantoven), may prevent clots in the blood arteries supplying the bones.


Your healthcare professional might advise:

  • Rest. The deterioration of the bones may be slowed by limiting physical activity or by using crutches for a while to take weight off the joint.
  • Exercises. Exercises to assist maintain or enhance the range of motion in the joint can be taught by a physical therapist.
  • Stimulation with Electricity. To replace the broken bone, the body may be encouraged by electrical currents to create new bone. Electrical stimulation can be used directly to treat the injured area. Alternately, it can be given using electrodes affixed to the skin.

Surgery may be advised by your doctor because most people don't experience symptoms until advanced avascular necrosis. Following are the choices:

  • A core decompression. Part of the bone's inner layer is removed by a surgeon. Along with lessening pain, the more room inside the bone stimulates the growth of healthy bone tissue and new blood vessels.
  • Transplant (graft) of bone. Avascular necrosis-affected bone can benefit from this surgery by becoming stronger. A piece of sound bone from another area of the body is used as the transplant.
  • Osteotomy, the sculpting of the bone. To assist take the weight off the injured bone, a wedge of bone is removed above or below a weight-bearing joint. The delay of joint replacement may be facilitated by bone contouring.
  • Replacement of a joint. Surgery can replace the damaged joint components with plastic or metal ones if the affected bone has collapsed or previous therapies have failed.
  • Treatment with Regenerative Medicine. A more recent surgery that could aid hip avascular necrosis in the early stages is bone marrow aspiration and concentration. A sample of dead hipbone is removed during surgery, and its place is filled with bone marrow-derived stem cells. New bone growth might be possible as a result. Additional research is required.

Also Read :

Hypospadias: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Arteriovenous Fistula : Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Prevention Of Avascular Necrosis

Enhance general wellness and lower the possibility of avascular necrosis by:

  • Limit your Alcohol intake. The risk of avascular necrosis is increased by heavy drinking.
  • Your cholesterol should be Reduced. Microscopic fat particles are the most frequent obstruction to blood flow to bones.
  • Track your Steroid Usage. Any high-dose steroid usage, whether in the past or current, should be disclosed to your doctor. Steroid-related bone damage appears to worsen with continued use of high-dose steroids.
  • Quit Smoking. Smoking makes blood vessels tighten, which can reduce blood flow.

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