What is Avascular Necrosis?

Avascular Necrosis (osteonecrosis) of the hip is a condition that occurs when the blood supply to the hip bone is disrupted. As bone cells die without a blood supply, this can lead to collapse of the hip joint and arthritis. Osteonecrosis is also called avascular necrosis or aseptic necrosis. It can occur secondary to steroid use, alcohol, medications, and other medical conditions.  If you have hip symptoms and have any of these conditions, please call us to arrange a consultation as you may be suffering from avascular necrosis.

Symptoms of Avascular Necrosis

Avascular Necrosis (AVN) develops in stages. Hip pain is typically the first symptom. This may be a dull ache or throbbing pain in the groin or buttock area. As the disease progresses, it slowly worsens and over time putting weight on the affected hip, and moving the hip joint will be painful.

How long it takes for the disease to progress through these stages varies from several months to many years. It is important to diagnose AVN early, because some studies show that early treatment is associated with better outcomes.

Treatments for Avascular Necrosis

Although nonsurgical treatment options like medications or using crutches can relieve pain and slow the progression of the disease, generally treatment is surgical. 

Patients with osteonecrosis that is diagnosed in the very early stages (prior to femoral head collapse) are good candidates for hip preserving procedures.

  • Core Decompression

This procedure involves drilling holes into the femoral head to relieve pressure in the bone and create channels for new blood vessels to the hip.

  • Vascularized fibula graft

A segment of bone is taken from a bone in your leg (fibula) along with its blood supply (an artery and vein). This graft is transplanted into a hole created in the femoral neck and head.

  • Total hip replacement

If AVN has advanced to femoral head collapse, the most successful treatment is total hip replacement. This involves replacing the damaged cartilage and bone with implants.

Speak to a specialist today

Our team of dedicatedhip replacement surgeons are internationally trained to handlelabral tears, hip arthritis, avascular necrosis and other syndromes and conditions. Performing hip arthroscopy, our surgeons will be able to determine the cause of your hip pain or other problems in your joint. You can trust our team at Victorian Bone & Joint specialists to deliver an exceptional experience during every step of the journey to recovery.

Contact us today to submit an enquiry and one of our specialists will respond as soon as possible.


What happens if avascular necrosis is left untreated?

When avascular necrosis is left untreated, the disease will progress. The bone may develop a crack, in which the bone collapses. Should this occur at the end of the bone, the surface of the joint will be irregular, which can cause arthritic pain and loss of function to the affected joint.

Does exercise help avascular necrosis?

There is no evidence exercise helps avascular necrosis, and weight bearing on a hip with avascular necrosis can contribute to collapse of the joint and the development of arthritis.  It is essential that your hip is evaluated by a hip specialist to determine the correct physical regime for you. 

Will avascular necrosis spread to other bones in the body?

No, avascular necrosis cannot spread to other bones in the body. In the absence of other conditions, AVN will stay in the same body part. However, avascular necrosis can occur in other parts of the body, for example if it affects one hip, there is between 10-40% chance it can affect the other hip.