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Osteonecrosis is the breakdown and death of bone tissue. It is also referred to as bone infarcts. This condition arises when the blood supply to the tissue is interrupted. The disease mainly affects long bones such as the femur but also short bones. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, such as trauma causing a fracture of the femoral neck, a broken wrist, and certain diseases such as sickle cell disease pathologies associated with alcohol and the taking of corticosteroids over a long time. Osteonecrosis is genetic and hereditary. It appears between the ages of 30 and 60 and affects more men than women.


Osteonecrosis occurs as follows:
  • severe pain even during rest;
  • a decrease of mobility at the affected joint;
  • collapse of the affected bone.


The diagnosis of osteonecrosis is carried out first and foremost through an examination in which the doctor tries to identify family history and duration of pain. Then, he chooses one of two examinations: a bone scan or an MRI. Radiography is not recommended as it only provides evident results at a very advanced stage of the disease, when the necrotic bone is completely collapsed.


The treatment of osteonecrosis is often very difficult. It consists of performing a bone drilling. In other cases, bone grafting may be a solution. Other surgical techniques are also possible, such as the injection of acrylic cement and the filling of bone stem cells. In the most severe cases, the surgeon will opt for a joint prosthesis. This is frequently the case when the hip is affected. However, if the disease is detected early, analgesics in limited use may be enough for the affected joint. It is necessary to eventually resort to surgery because drug treatments are only designed to slow the progression of the disease.


The prevention of osteonecrosis is difficult because in most cases the causes of the disease are unknown. Nevertheless, it is possible to reduce risk by limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding high doses of corticosteroids.

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