Long-term survival and clinical outcomes of non-vascularized autologous and allogeneic fibular grafts are comparable for treating osteonecrosis of the femoral head

J Orthop Surg Res. 2021 Feb 4;16(1):109. doi: 10.1186/s13018-021-02246-3.


Background: Osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH) is a disabling disease, which often involves young patients. Recently, various hip-preserving surgeries were recommended to delay total hip arthroplasty (THA).

Questions/purposes: This study aimed to compare clinical outcomes and survival rate in the long-term follow-up between core decompression combined with a non-vascularized autologous fibular graft (group A) and an allogeneic fibular graft (group B) for the treatment of ONFH.

Patients and methods: We retrospectively evaluated 117 patients (153 hips) with ONFH (Association Research Circulation Osseous [ARCO] stages IIa to IIIc) who underwent the abovementioned hip-preserving surgeries between January 2003 and June 2012. The mean (range) follow-up times (years) were 12.9 (7-16) and 9.3 (6-16) in groups A and B, respectively. Clinical outcomes were assessed using the Harris Hip Score (HHS), visual analog scale (VAS) score, and forgotten joint score (FJS). A survival analysis was performed using the Kaplan-Meier method. The end point was THA.

Results: Groups A and B showed postoperative improvements, respectively, in HHS from 65 ± 7.2 to 80.3 ± 14.5 and from 66 ± 5.9 to 82.4 ± 13.6 (p < 0.05), and in VAS score from 6.3 ± 1.1 to 2.3 ± 1.6 and from 6.1 ± 1 to 2.2 ± 2.2 (p < 0.05). However, no significant differences in the HHS, VAS score, and hip FJS at the last follow-up (p > 0.05) and 15-year survival rate (84.1% and 86%, respectively, p > 0.05) were found between groups A and B.

Conclusions: Autologous and allogeneic fibular grafts can attain equally good clinical outcomes and high survival rates in long-term follow-up, and thus can greatly delay THA owing to good bone osseointegration and sufficient mechanical support. Notably, the ratio of failure will increase when patients were more than 37 years old.

Level of evidence: Level III, therapeutic study.

Keywords: Allogeneic fibular grafting; Autologous fibular grafting; Hip-preserving surgery; Osteonecrosis of the femoral head.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Femur Head Necrosis / surgery*
  • Fibula / transplantation*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Survival*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult