Radiotherapy vs. nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the prevention of heterotopic ossification after major hip procedures: a meta-analysis of randomized trials

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2004 Nov 1;60(3):888-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2003.11.015.


Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of radiotherapy (RT) vs. nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the prevention of heterotopic ossification (HO) after major hip procedures.

Methods and materials: We conducted a meta-analysis of 7 randomized studies (n = 1143) comparing RT with NSAIDs. Data were combined across studies using fixed and random effects models. We conducted separate analyses for clinically significant HO (Brooker Grade 3 and 4) and for any HO (any Brooker grade).

Results: Overall RT tended to be more effective than NSAIDs in preventing Brooker 3 or 4 HO (risk ratio, 0.42; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.18-0.97) or any HO (risk ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.37-1.71), but with significant between-study heterogeneity for the second analysis. The overall absolute risk difference for Brooker 3 or 4 HO was small (-1.18%; 95% CI, -2.45% to 0.09%). Subgroup analyses showed that early preoperative RT (16-20 hours before surgery) and acetylsalicylic acid were less effective. For postoperative RT, there was a significant dose-response relationship (p = 0.008): 6 Gy of RT was equally effective as NSAIDs, whereas increasing radiation doses were more effective.

Conclusions: Although absolute differences may be small, postoperative RT is on average more effective than NSAIDs in preventing HO after major hip procedures, and its efficacy is dose dependent.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Hip Fractures / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / drug therapy
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / prevention & control*
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / radiotherapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal