Scaphoid Nonunion Vascularized Bone Grafting in 2021: Is Avascular Necrosis the Sole Determinant?

James P. Higgins, Aviram M. Giladi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The decision regarding the use of vascularized bone grafting (VBG) or nonvascularized bone grafting for the treatment of scaphoid nonunion (SNU) needs guidelines based on patient- and fracture-specific risk factors. Historically, the presence of avascular necrosis was viewed as the primary indication for VBG; however, avascular necrosis is not the only indicator to determine whether VBG can improve our treatment of difficult SNU cases. The methods of detecting scaphoid avascular necrosis lack consensus and accuracy, limiting their use as decision-making tools. Additionally, many other preoperative risk factors for SNU surgery failure have been reported and require careful and standardized study, including the location of nonunion in the scaphoid proximal pole, the duration of nonunion, previous failed nonunion surgery, smoking, and fracture nonunion displacement or collapse. An appropriate study size and design are needed to determine the factors that guide the use of VBG or nonvascularized bone grafting to optimize the outcomes of SNU surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-806.e2
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Avascular necrosis
  • scaphoid fracture
  • scaphoid nonunion
  • vascularized bone graft
  • wrist reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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