Arthritis Q&A by Dr. Shiel

I am a 69-year-old female diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip. How is this condition treated?


The treatment of aseptic necrosis is critically dependent on the stage of the condition. Avascular necrosis is caused by a loss of the blood supply to the part of the femur (the upper leg bone) that forms part of the hip joint. Early aseptic necrosis (before x-ray changes are evident) can be treated with a surgical operation called a core decompression. This operation involves removing a core of bone from the involved area and sometimes grafting new bone into the area. This allows new blood vessels to form and creates a new blood supply to the bone. Weight-bearing or impact to the involved joint usually is restricted to prevent additional injury to the bone.

Later stages of aseptic necrosis (when x-ray changes have occurred) typically lead to seriously damaged bone and joints, requiring surgical replacement of the hip joint.

Thank you for your question.

Last Editorial Review: 2/26/2007