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Ann Intern Med. 2002 Jul 2;137(1):17-25.

High prevalence of osteonecrosis of the femoral head in HIV-infected adults.

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  • 1Critical Care Medicine Department, Clinical Center, Building 10, Room 7D43, MSC1662, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1662, USA.



Osteonecrosis has been reported to occur occasionally among HIV-infected patients. The diagnosis of symptomatic osteonecrosis of the hip in two of the authors' patients, together with reports from community physicians, raised a concern that the prevalence of osteonecrosis is increasing.


To determine the prevalence of osteonecrosis of the hip in asymptomatic HIV-infected patients and to identify potential risk factors associated with osteonecrosis.


Survey and comparison study.


The Clinical Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.


339 asymptomatic HIV-infected adults (of 364 asked to participate) and 118 age- and sex-matched HIV-negative volunteers enrolled between 1 June and 15 December 1999.


Osteonecrosis of the hip, as documented by magnetic resonance imaging. Data from clinic records and a patient questionnaire administered before magnetic resonance imaging were used in an analysis of risk factors. A subset of patients was evaluated for hypercoagulable state.


Fifteen (4.4% [95% CI, 2.5% to 7.2%]) of 339 HIV-infected participants had osteonecrosis lesions on magnetic resonance imaging, and no HIV-negative participants had similar lesions. Among HIV-infected participants, osteonecrosis occurred more frequently in those who used systemic corticosteroids, lipid-lowering agents, or testosterone; those who exercised routinely by bodybuilding; and those who had detectable levels of anticardiolipin antibodies.


Patients infected with HIV have an unexpectedly high occurrence of osteonecrosis of the hip. Although screening asymptomatic patients is not warranted, HIV-infected patients with persistent groin or hip pain should be evaluated for this debilitating complication.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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