Avascular necrosis (AVN), also known as osteonecrosis, is a condition that occurs when there is a temporary or permanent loss of blood supply to a bone, leading to the death of bone tissue. It can affect any bone in the body, but it commonly affects the ends of long bones such as the femur (thighbone), humerus (upper arm bone), and the bones of the hip and knee joints.
The lack of blood supply to the affected bone can be caused by various factors, including trauma, prolonged use of corticosteroid medications, excessive alcohol consumption, blood clotting disorders, radiation therapy, and certain medical conditions such as sickle cell anaemia and lupus. However, in some cases, the cause may be unknown.
When blood flow to the bone is disrupted, the bone tissue begins to die and collapse. This can lead to pain, limited range of motion, and eventual destruction of the joint if left untreated. The symptoms of avascular necrosis may develop gradually over time or appear suddenly, depending on the underlying cause and the extent of the condition.
Diagnosis of avascular necrosis typically involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, and imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or bone scans. These tests help in assessing the extent of bone damage and determining the most appropriate treatment approach.
Treatment options for avascular necrosis aim to relieve pain, preserve joint function, and prevent further damage to the affected bone. The choice of treatment depends on the stage of the condition, the location and size of the affected area, and the patient's overall health. Conservative measures may include pain medications, limiting weight-bearing activities, and using assistive devices like crutches. In more advanced cases, surgical interventions such as core decompression, bone grafting, joint replacement, or osteotomy (bone realignment) may be necessary.
It's important to note that the prognosis for avascular necrosis can vary depending on several factors, including the stage of the condition at the time of diagnosis, the affected bone, the underlying cause, and the effectiveness of treatment. Early detection and prompt treatment can improve outcomes and prevent the progression of the disease. If you suspect you have avascular necrosis or are experiencing symptoms related to it, it is advisable for you to contact Dr. Rajesh Malhotra, an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, for a proper evaluation and guidance regarding treatment options.