Avascular necrosis, also known as osteonecrosis is a medical condition involving death and decay of bone tissue (necrosis). Avascular necrosis results from loss of blood supply to the effected area and is similar to heart tissue that loses blood supply during a heart attack. Unlike cardiac tissue, which heals with scar tissue, necrotic bone decays and surrounding areas may collapse or degenerate quickly. Loss of blood flow can result from joint injury, narrowed or clogged blood vessels (from fat or sickle cell anemia), or from excessive pressure inside the bone (caused by conditions like Legg-Calve-Perthes disease or Gaucher’s disease).
With the use of stem cell therapy, regenerative medicine has been incorporated into the treatment of avascular necrosis (AVN). The patient’s own stem cells are placed directly into the avascular, necrotic region to repair and restore the functionality of the affected bone tissue. This technique is best employed early in the course of detection, before significant bone collapse has occurred. Patients often wish to defer surgery when possible in order to maintain joint function and ability to participate in sports. Other surgical alternatives to hip and knee replacement such as micro fracture and vascular grafts are invasive and require periods of immobility and non-weight bearing. Stem cell therapy is a potential alternative to knee and hip replacement and is an attractive alternative due to minimal functional loss and quicker healing times.
The rehabilitation following stem cell therapy can begin immediately with a physician supervised program customized for individual patient end goals. Initially, focus is geared toward general fitness, body strength and conditioning. Emphasis on repair and maintaining high long term functionality are primary with sport specific and functional level goals incorporated into the rehabilitation program. Dr. Dennis M. Lox has a long history of successfully treating athletes with avascular necrosis.