Hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a treatment for stage-I avascular necrosis of the femoral head

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2003 Apr;85(3):371-5. doi: 10.1302/0301-620x.85b3.13237.


Avascular necrosis (AVN) of the head of the femur is a potentially crippling disease which mainly affects young adults. Although treatment by exposure to hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is reported as being beneficial, there has been no study of its use in treated compared with untreated patients. We selected 12 patients who suffered from Steinberg stage-I AVN of the head of the femur (four bilateral) whose lesions were 4 mm or more thick and/or 12.5 mm or more long on MRI. Daily HBO therapy was given for 100 days to each patient. All smaller stage-I lesions and more advanced stages of AVN were excluded. These size criteria were chosen in order to compare outcomes with an identical size of lesion in an untreated group described earlier. Overall, 81% of patients who received HBO therapy showed a return to normal on MRI as compared with 17% in the untreated group. We therefore conclude that hyperbaric oxygen is effective in the treatment of stage-I AVN of the head of the femur.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Femur Head Necrosis / diagnosis
  • Femur Head Necrosis / therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome