Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis occurs when the healthy bones in your body stop getting an adequate blood supply. This causes the death of the healthy bone tissue, also referred to as AVN or osteonecrosis. This condition is most commonly seen in the hip joint, but is not uncommon in the legs or lower extremities. However, avascular necrosis is highly uncommon in the spine. Often, patients experiencing avascular necrosis of the spine have been through traumatic spinal injuries or severe spinal degeneration.

Risk factors for avascular necrosis

The bone inside your body is not stagnant and unchanging. Unlike cadaver bones, the bones within your body are alive and continuously replaced and reabsorbed. This process maintains the mineral balance within your body. When blood flow ceases to reach the bone, the bone tissue stops its routine of replacement and reabsorption and subsequently dies. Avascular necrosis is generally caused by a series of activities or lifestyle choices including:

  • Thrombosis
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Scuba diving
  • Steroid use
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension


The cell death associated with avascular necrosis is not retractable. Treatment for patients who are suffering from this condition, is generally done in order to restore the blood flow and stop further damage. In almost all cases, surgery is necessary.

Before jumping to any conclusion regarding your potential conditions, be sure to talk to your physician about testing and receiving a second opinion.