Avascular Necrosis(AVN)

Taylor Murphy

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Questions to consider:

  1. What are the signs and symptoms of having this disease?
  2. What treatment can doctors suggest to help prevent and stop the Avascular Necrosis in joints?

What is it?

Avascular necrosis is the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply. Also called osteonecrosis, avascular necrosis can lead to tiny breaks in the bone and the bone's eventual collapse.

The Body Parts Affected:

It can occur in any bone, osteonecrosis most commonly affects the ends (epiphysis) of the femur, the bone extending from the knee joint to the hip joint. Other common areas would be the, upper arm, shoulder, knees, ankles and possibly the jaw. This disease can affected multiple bones at a time.

Signs and Symptoms:

In the early stages of this disease, you may feel little to no pain at all. As the disease progresses then the joint that is affected may only hurt when you put pressure on it.

People who have a persistent pain may want to consult with a doctor right away as this symptom may be a sign of Avascular Necrosis.

Test and Diagnosis:

When the doctor is examining you, they will check your range of motion in your joints and may feel around the area that hurts to check for tenderness in the joint.

X-rays-This is a way the doctor to see a change in the joint, but most of the time in the early stages the x-ray may appear normal.

Bone Scan-During this procedure, the doctor injects a small amount of radioactive material into your veins, and will then travel to the area affected. This will show up as bright spots on the imaging plate used.

Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI)-In this test, doctors are able to detect early stages of Avascular Necrosis. MRIs use radio waves and strong magnetic fields to scan the inner structures of the body.

Treatment and Prognosis:

Many doctors may be able to prescribe medicine such as the use of; Ibuprofen, Osteoporosis drugs, Cholesterol drugs, and/or blood thinners. These drugs may help reduce blood clots and build up the Avascular Necrosis can cause.

In early stages, doctors can suggest that you rest and take time off the joint, exercise in ways that may help strengthen the area affected, or electrical stimulation to help the body grow new bone over the affected.

Doctors may also suggest that you get a surgical or other medical procedure, especially for those who are in the later stages. The main one that was suggested, was a joint replacement or bone shaping. These both help remove the part of the joint with Avascular Necrosis. With the use of medicine, therapy and surgical procedures doctors have found ways for people to live a pain free life who suffer from this disease.


Japanese survey estimated that 2500-3300 cases of AVN of the hip occur each year; of which, 34.7% were a result of corticosteroid abuse, 21.8% to alcohol abuse, and 37.1% to idiopathic mechanisms. A French study reported AVN in 4.3% of allogenic bone marrow transplant recipients.

Males were more prominent to having AVN. The male to female ratio was 8:1.

It also occurs around the ages of 40-60, shown acute in younger ages but worsen over time if untreated.

Terms Chart:

  • MRI
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Bone Scan
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteonecrosis
  • Epiphysis


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