Osteonecrosis is a disabling condition in which blood supply to the bone is cut off. This can cause the hip joint to collapse. Osteonecrosis can be caused by disease or a severe trauma, such as a break or dislocation, that affects the blood supply to the bone. Many times, no trauma or disease is present. This is called "idiopathic osteonecrosis" - meaning it occurs without any known cause.
The following can cause osteonecrosis:
- Long-term treatments with steroids
- Excessive alcohol use
- Sickle cell disease
- Radiation therapy
- Gaucher disease
- Decompression sickness from a lot of deep sea diving
- Dislocation or fractures around a joint
Some diseases that may be associated with the development of this condition include:
Diagnosis and Treatment
Osteonecrosis (O.N.) is a disease that typically affects adults between the ages of 20-50 years old.
During an exam, it is necessary to flex and rotate the hips to check for pain. Hips may be x-rayed and possibly scanned by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to see if bone marrow is dying or dead and how much the head of the femur may have collapsed.
If O.N. is present and the head of the femur is not yet collapsed, certain medical procedures (decompression and bone grafting) may help the body build new blood vessels and bone cells to replace the dead ones.
If O.N. has already collapsed the hip, total hip replacement surgery (arthroplasty) may eliminate the pain and improve hip mobility. A ball and socket replaces the hip joint. The thighbone is fitted with the ball piece, which takes the place of the head of the femur. The hip socket is fitted with the socket piece (cup).
The Connecticut Joint Replacement Institute can help you explore your treatment options for osteonecrosis.