Introduction: Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and prophylactic radiotherapy can prevent ectopic bone formation around the hip after total hip arthroplasty.
Methods: We retrieved from Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Register (clinical) trials and other relevant literature on the prevention of heterotopic ossification (HO) from 1990-2002 for further review.
Results: Review of these clinical trials shows that HO is effectively prevented by a postoperative NSAID treatment with indomethacin for at least seven days. The best evidence is available for indomethacin, although naproxen, diclofenac and ibuprofen are also well documented. Short term use of ibuprofen is not effective. If NSAIDs are contraindicated, preoperative or postoperative radiotherapy is a very effective therapeutic option to prevent HO.
Discussion and conclusion: Because of the potential of serious gastrointestinal side effects of NSAIDs and their interaction with anticoagulant drugs, rofecoxib and other COX-2 specific NSAIDs may be a safer option for the treatment of HO. However, randomised controlled studies are needed to confirm the results of the rofecoxib study.