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Osteonecrosis (Bone Necrosis)

A disease in which a temporary or permanent loss of the blood supply to the bones causes bone tissue to die and the bone to collapse.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

About Osteonecrosis (Bone Necrosis)

Osteonecrosis is most often found in the hips, knees, shoulders, and ankles. You may have osteonecrosis in one or more bones.

In people with healthy bones, new bone is always replacing old bone. This process keeps bones strong and also happens when children grow or if a bone is injured. In osteonecrosis, bone breaks down faster than the body can make enough strong, new bone. If you do not get treatment, the disease worsens and the bones in the joints break down. You may not be able to bend or move the affected joint very well, and you may have pain in the joint.

Who Gets Osteonecrosis?

Osteonecrosis can occur in people of any age, but it is most common in people in their thirties, forties, and fifties.

What Causes Osteonecrosis?

Osteonecrosis is caused when the blood flow to the bone decreases, but why this happens is not always clear. Some known causes of osteonecrosis are:

NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Terms to know

Bone
A living, growing tissue made mostly of collagen.
Bone Graft
The transplantation of healthy bone from one part of the body to replace injured or diseased bone in another part of the body.
Bone Remodeling
The process of bone renewal through resorption (where old bone is removed from the skeleton) and formation (where new bone is added to the skeleton).
Imaging Tests
A type of test that makes pictures of areas inside the body. Some examples of imaging tests are CT scans and MRIs. Also called imaging procedure.
Joints
In medicine, the place where two or more bones are connected. Examples include the shoulder, elbow, knee, and jaw.
Necrosis
Unplanned cell death caused by outside circumstances, such as traumatic injury or infection. See apoptosis.
Rheumatologist
Doctors who diagnose and treat diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and tendons, including arthritis and collagen diseases.
Surgery (Surgical Procedure)
A procedure to remove or repair a part of the body or to find out whether disease is present.

More about Osteonecrosis

Photo of an adult

Also called: Aseptic necrosis, Avascular necrosis, Ischemic bone necrosis

Other terms to know: See all 8
Bone, Bone Graft, Bone Remodeling

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