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Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2011 Jul;15(3):281-300. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1278427. Epub 2011 Jun 3.

The role of MR imaging in avascular necrosis of the femoral head.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.


Due to the pattern of its blood supply, the femoral head is particularly vulnerable to avascular necrosis (AVN). Nontraumatic AVN is a devastating disorder affecting young patients, and despite treatment it normally follows a progressive course toward a destructive osteoarthropathy. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is currently used in major classification systems solely for early detection of femoral head AVN when plain radiographs are normal. More recent data have shown that MR imaging may improve staging, investigate radiologically occult collapse, depict other causes of disability and pain, assess prognosis, and evaluate treatment. This article reviews the established and evolving role of MR imaging in patients at risk or with known femoral head AVN.

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