Autologous (non-vascularised) fibular grafting with recombinant bone morphogenetic protein-7 for the treatment of femoral head osteonecrosis
This preliminary study evaluates a combination of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-7 and non-vascularised autologous fibular grafting (AFG) for the treatment of osteonecrosis of the femoral head. BMP-7/AFG combination was applied in seven pre-collapse femoral heads (five Steinberg stage II, two stage III) in six patients. Pre- and post-operative evaluation included clinical (Harris hip score (HHS), visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain) and radiological assessment (radiographs, quantitative CT) at a mean follow-up of 4 years (2 to 5.5). A marked improvement of function (mean HHS increase of 49.2) and decrease of pain level (mean VAS decrease of 5) as well as retention of the sphericity of the femoral head was noted in five hips at the latest follow-up, while signs of consolidation were apparent from the third post-operative month. One patient (two hips) required bilateral total hip replacement at one year post-operatively. In the series as a whole, quantitative-CT evaluation revealed similar densities between affected and normal bone. Heterotopic ossification was observed in four hips, without compromise of the clinical outcome. In this limited series AFG/BMP-7 combination proved a safe and effective method for the treatment of femoral head osteonecrosis, leading to early consolidation of the AFG and preventing collapse in five of seven hips, while the operative time and post-operative rehabilitation period were much shorter compared with free vascularised fibular grafts.