To determine whether an angiogenic factor affects the pathogenesis of the idiopathic osteonecrosis of the medial femoral condyle, intraosseous pressure and venogram in 11 knees with osteonecrosis were compared with intraosseous pressure and venogram in 11 knees with the medial type of osteoarthritis. Patients were matched by age, gender, obesity index, blood pressure, tibiofemoral angle, and clinical evaluation. The intraosseous pressure of the medial condyle of the knees with osteonecrosis (62.8 +/- 27.3 mm Hg) was significantly higher than that in the lateral condyle of the knees with osteonecrosis (25.4 +/- 18.9 mm Hg) and those of both condyles of the knees with osteoarthritis (medial, 31.6 +/- 17.4 mm Hg; lateral, 29.5 +/- 11.0 mm Hg). In contrast, there was no significant difference in the pressure between the medial and lateral condyles of the knees with osteoarthritis. Venography showed a marked disturbance of venous drainage in all patients with osteonecrosis. In addition, the average clearance time of the medium in the medial femoral condyle was significantly more prolonged in patients with osteonecrosis (17.7 +/- 6.1 minutes) than in patients with osteoarthritis (5.5 +/- 1.6 minutes). These data support the hypothesis that venous stasis within the medullar canal in the condyle increases intraosseous pressure and decreases arteriovenous pressure difference, leading to osteonecrosis.