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How is osteonecrosis diagnosed?
After discussing your symptoms and medical history, your provider will examine your hip to discover which specific motions cause your pain?
Patients with osteonecrosis often have severe pain in the hip joint but relatively good range of motion. This is because only the femoral head is involved in the earlier stages of the disease. Later, as the surface of the femoral head collapses, the entire joint becomes arthritic. Loss of motion and stiffness can then develop.
X-rays. X-rays provide images of dense structures, such as bone. X-rays are used to determine whether the bone in the femoral head has collapsed and to what degree.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Early changes in the bone that may not show up on an x-ray can be detected with an MRI scan. These scans are used to evaluate how much of the bone is affected by the disease. An MRI may also show early osteonecrosis that has yet to cause symptoms (for example — osteonecrosis that may be developing in the opposite hip joint).