Table of Contents
Volume 2012, Article ID 601763, 11 pages
Review Article

The Pathogenesis of Nontraumatic Osteonecrosis

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia School of Medicine, 400 Ray C. Hunt Drive, Box 800159, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA

Received 24 June 2012; Accepted 28 October 2012

Academic Editor: Pierre Youinou

Copyright © 2012 Jesse Seamon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nontraumatic osteonecrosis continues to be a challenging problem causing debilitating major joint diseases. The etiology is multifactorial, but steroid- and alcohol-induced osteonecrosis contribute to more than two thirds of all cases with genetic risk factors playing an important role in many other cases, especially when they contribute to hypercoagulable states. While the exact mechanisms remain elusive, many new insights have emerged from research in the last decade that have given us a clearer picture of the pathogenesis of nontraumatic osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Progression to end stage osteonecrosis of the femoral head appears to be related to four main factors: interactions involving the differentiation pathway of osteoprogenitor cells that promote adipogenesis, decreased angiogenesis, direct suppression of osteogenic gene expression and proliferation of bone marrow stem cells, and genetic anomalies or other diseases that promote hypercoagulable states.