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Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis)

Avascular necrosis (AVN), also known as osteonecrosis or aseptic necrosis, is a condition where the blood flow to an area of bone is compromised. It can occur in multiple areas in the body, but the most common site is in the femoral head (ball of the hip joint). The loss of blood flow leads to death (necrosis) of portions of the femoral head. After the bone dies, it is weakened and can collapse over time.

Causes of AVN

In some cases, there is an identifiable risk factor or cause of AVN, but it may occur without any obvious reason (idiopathic).

The most common risk factors include:

  • Steroids
  • Alcohol
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Trauma

AVN Symptoms

AVN is often without symptoms early on, but when they occur, the common symptoms of AVN are similar to arthritis and can include:

  • Pain, often in the groin or buttock
  • Stiffness of the hip joint

AVN Treatment

Depending on multiple contributing factors, AVN can be treated with or without surgery.

Conservative (non-operative) treatment can include:

  • Observation
  • Restricted weight bearing
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bisphosphonates

Surgical treatment is dependent on the extent of the disease and can include: