Osteonecrosis (Avascular necrosis)

Osteonecrosis, also known as Avascular necrosis, is a condition in which the bone dies due to a lack of blood flow. It occurs most often in the hip, but can develop in the knees, ankles, shoulders and other joints in the body. If prompt treatment is not provided, osteonecrosis can cause the bone to completely degenerate and a serious form of arthritis may develop.

Causes & Risk Factors

In some cases, osteonecrosis can occur after trauma or disease affects the bone. However, the condition can also be idiopathic, which means that there is no specific known cause.

Some of the causes of osteonecrosis include:

  • Long periods of steroid use
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Bone fractures or injuries near a joint
  • Activities such as diving that can cause decompression sickness
  • Health conditions such as diabetes, gout, and sickle cell anemia are also considered risk factors for osteonecrosis.

Osteonecrosis Symptoms

There may not be any symptoms present at first, but as the condition worsens, symptoms will usually start to appear. Some of these include painful joints (whether there is movement involved or not), decreased flexibility, difficulty walking, and pain in the groin area when the hip is affected.


Some of the tests that help with diagnosing osteonecrosis include MRI, x-rays, and CT scan. These tests allow doctors to check for damage in the bones and joints. A physical exam can also help doctors determine if osteonecrosis is present. Additional health problems, medication, and drug use should be discussed during the exam.

Osteonecrosis Treatment

If a cause can be determined, the treatment will be targeted toward the underlying health problem. For example, if osteonecrosis developed because of a blood clot, medication that dissolves blood clots will be part of the treatment. In mild cases of osteonecrosis, pain medication, bed rest, and physical therapy are sometimes sufficient to treat the condition. But in cases where the condition is in its advanced stages, surgery is usually recommended.

Some of the surgical procedures used to treat osteonecrosis include:

  • Bone Grafting
  • Osteotomy (realignment of the affected joint or bone to reduce pressure)
  • Complete Joint Replacement
  • Core Decompression (removal of sections of the bone to decrease pressure)

For more osteonecrosis treatment options, go to St Pete Hip and Knee at

Kurt Hirshorn MD of St Pete Hip and Knee guarantees expertise and compassion when caring for his patients, and ensures a good hospital stay. Schedule an appointment today or call us at (727) 755-0313.

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4600 4th Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33703, USA
Phone: (727) 755-0313

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