Characterization and pathological characteristics of spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee.

Simon C. Mears, Edward F. McCarthy, Lynne C. Jones, David S. Hungerford, Michael A. Mont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee affects patients typically over the age of fifty-five years. Evidence exists that this process may not be true necrosis. The purpose of this study was to characterize the demographic, radiographic, and pathologic features of this condition. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-one patients (twenty-two knees) consecutively treated for spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee were studied. RESULTS: Only one of twenty-two specimens demonstrated evidence of bone necrosis. No specimens showed fat necrosis, marrow necrosis, fibrous change or appositional bone repair. Fourteen of twenty-two specimens (64%) showed significant osteopenia and fifteen of twenty-two specimens (68%) showed evidence of osteoarthritis. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee is not an osteonecrotic condition and has been misnamed. Osteopenia and osteoarthritis may play a role in the pathogenesis of this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-42
Number of pages5
JournalThe Iowa orthopaedic journal
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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