Avascular Necrosis (AVN)

What is Avascular Necrosis (AVN)?


Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis (AVN) is a result of a decrease or complete cessation of blood flow to a part or all of the head of the femur bone. As the blood ceases to flow to the bone, the bone dies and a series of physical and chemical process then occur in the bone.

These processes result in the body attempting to reabsorb and digest the dead bone. As this process progresses, the bone weakens and ultimately can collapse. During this process, and especially when collapse occurs, severe pain and limited motion in the hip debilitates the patient.

What is the Cause of Avascular Necrosis (AVN)?


The exact reason why AVN occurs is still unknown.

How is Avascular Necrosis (AVN) Diagnosed?


Diagnosis can be made by routine x-ray of the hip in some cases, while in others it is necessary to obtain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the hip. The MRI scan is capable of not only diagnosis, but also of providing a good picture of the amount of involvement of the femoral head.

When severe end-stage AVN occurs in the hip and collapse of the femoral head has occurred, the only reasonable consideration for pain relief and return to function is to perform a hip replacement procedure. There are several types of hip replacement, with the specific type used dependent upon the patients age, bone quality, other diseases, and anticipated level of functional activity. Hemiarthroplasty, Total hip Resurfacing, total hip arthroplasty with or without cement, as well as devices with alternative bearing surfaces are available to the patient with end-stage avascular necrosis of the hip.

Consultation with our orthopaedic surgeon as to the specific type of hip replacement is necessary before any decision for surgery is made.

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