Avascular Necrosis Treated by Top Orthopedic Surgeons at Mercy

Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist, Hand Center - Baltimore

At The Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist and Hand Center at Mercy, orthopedic surgeons specialize in joint preservation and reconstruction. Patients from across the Baltimore region seek Mercy's orthopedic expertise for our team's advanced skills in treating avascular necrosis of the shoulder and hand.

About the Condition

Avascular necrosis is a condition in which a portion of bone dies due to loss of blood supply. When blood flow to the bone is disrupted, the bone begins to fracture and eventually can collapse. Blood flow to bones can be disrupted due to trauma, joint dislocation or pressure in the bone due to medical conditions such as sickle cell anemia, lupus or Gaucher’s disease. 

Certain medications, such as steroids, and excessive drinking can cause fat to build in the blood preventing the blood from reaching the bones. Avascular necrosis most commonly affects the hip, but also can affect the knee, shoulder, hand and foot.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Avascular necrosis initially may not cause any symptoms. As avascular necrosis develops, joints may begin to hurt with activity and eventually even while inactive. Symptoms of avascular necrosis can include:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Loss of motion

Orthopedic surgeons diagnose avascular necrosis by first performing a physical exam. The painful joint is examined by the orthopedic surgeon while it is moved to test for range of motion. Imaging tests such as X-rays, bone scans and MRIs may be conducted to look for changes in bone structure.

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Initial treatment for avascular necrosis includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Conditioning program
  • Bracing
  • Activity modification
  • Limited weight bearing

For more severe cases of avascular necrosis, surgery is the best treatment option. Surgical treatments for avascular necrosis can include:

  • Drilling the affected area to stimulate a new blood supply
  • Bone graft to the affected area
  • A partial or total joint replacement
Meet Our Doctors: Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist & Hand Center
Dr. Kamala Littleton, Orthopedic Surgeon
Kamala Littleton, M.D.

Dr. Kamala Littleton specializes in joint replacement and reconstruction for the hip, knee and shoulder. Her areas of expertise include anterior hip replacement, MAKO knee resurfacing, minimally invasive total knee replacement and ACL reconstruction.

See all Shoulder Doctor Profiles ›