How is femoral head avascular necrosis (AVN) prevented?

Updated: Oct 22, 2018
  • Author: John D Kelly, IV, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Answer

Abstinence from excessive alcohol intake and taking the lowest possible dose of a corticosteroid (when indicated) are the 2 chief means of AVN prevention.

Patients should also stop or avoid smoking tobacco products, as there is an increased risk of nontraumatic osteonecrosis of the femoral head, particularly in those who never received oral corticosteroids. [24]

There are some data regarding cholesterol-lowering statin therapy as a means of decreasing the risk of AVN for those receiving corticosteroids. [7] Given the relatively favorable safety profile of these agents, such therapy should be considered.

Cutaneous electrical stimulation, in the form of capacitive coupling, is purported by some to have a disease-modifying effect, although long-term studies are lacking.

Anticoagulation therapy in the form of enoxaparin was shown in one investigation to retard progression of early AVN. [22] This lends support to the "thrombophilia theory" of AVN disease etiology.

Lastly, the antiresorptive, alendronate, was demonstrated to prevent collapse of early AVN. [23] This finding adds credence to the argument that the bone's repair response (resorption), rather than the actual infarction, leads to femoral head collapse and the subsequent morbidity.


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