Background: Femoral head osteonecrosis as a result of trauma in adolescents has a poor prognosis as a result of femoral head collapse and subsequent degenerative change of the hip. There are currently no satisfactory treatments for adolescents with this condition, although bisphosphonate therapy has improved the outcome in animal models of osteonecrosis. We evaluated bisphosphonate therapy for femoral head osteonecrosis following trauma in adolescents.
Methods: We established a protocol for identifying adolescents with osteonecrosis of the femoral head with use of bone scans immediately after surgical treatment of hips at risk for the development of osteonecrosis following trauma. In a consecutive group of twenty-eight patients with an unstable slipped capital femoral epiphysis (twenty-two patients), femoral neck fracture (four), or traumatic hip dislocation (two), seventeen patients with osteonecrosis were identified. These patients (thirteen boys and four girls with a mean age of 12.7 years) and their families gave consent for the patients to receive treatment with intravenous bisphosphonates. The average duration of the bisphosphonate treatment was 20.3 months (range, seven to thirty-nine months). All patients were followed clinically and radiographically for a minimum of two years.
Results: After a mean duration of follow-up of 38.7 months, fourteen patients were pain-free. Clinically, all seventeen patients had a good or excellent outcome. On the average, the Harris hip score was 91.2 points, the Iowa Hip Rating was 92.1 points, and the Global Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI) score was 91.5 points. According to the radiographic classification system of Stulberg et al., nine hips were rated as Class I or II; six, as Class III; and two, as Class IV.
Conclusions: Bisphosphonate therapy may play an adjunctive role in the treatment of adolescents with osteonecrosis of the femoral head following trauma.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1 The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Locked Bag 4001, Westmead NSW 2145, Australia. E-mail address for D.G. Little: DavidL3@chw.edu.au
2 Cheltenham General Hospital, Sandford Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7AN, United Kingdom