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Microsurgery. 2011 Mar;31(3):223-8. doi: 10.1002/micr.20837. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

Femoral head osteonecrosis: why choose free vascularized fibula grafting.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Ioannina, School of Medicine, Ioannina, Greece.


Osteonecrosis of the femoral head is a disease in which bone death occurs and usually progresses to articular incongruity and subsequent osteoarthritis. To delay the process of the disease and the conversion to total hip arthroplasty, many surgical techniques have been described. Core decompression, nonvascularized autologous bone grafts, porous tantalum implant procedure, and various osteotomies have been used for the management of early precollapse stage osteonecrosis of the femoral head. However, none of these procedures is neither entirely effective nor can obtain predictable results. With the progress of microsurgery, the implantation of a free vascularized fibula graft to the necrotic femoral head has provided the most consistently successful results. Although the procedure is technically demanding, there is growing recognition that the use of free vascularized fibula graft may improve patient quality of life by functional improvement and pain alleviation. The success of the procedure is related to decompression of the femoral head, excision of the necrotic bone, and addition of cancellous bone graft with osteoinductive and osteoconductive properties, which augments revascularization and neoosteogenesis of the femoral head. Free vascularized fibula graft, especially in younger patients, is a salvaging procedure of the necrotic femoral head in early precollapse stages. In postcollapse osteonecrosis, the procedure appears to delay the need for total hip arthroplasty in the majority of patients. The purpose of this review article is to update knowledge about treatment strategies in femoral head osteonecrosis and to compare free vascularized fibula grafting to traditional and new treatment modalities.

Copyright © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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