Introduction: There are many treatment options for patients who have osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH) and management strategies vary widely both among and within individual countries. Although many researchers have attempted to elucidate the optimal strategies for managing this disease, the lack of large-scale randomized control trials and the lack of agreement on disease staging have curtailed the development of clear-cut guidelines.
Materials and methods: The Association Research Circulation Osseous (ARCO) group sought to address three questions for the management of patients who have ONFH: 1) What imaging studies are most sensitive and specific for the diagnostic evaluation of patients who have ONFH?; 2) What is the best treatment strategy for preventing disease progression in patients who have pre-collapse lesions?; and 3) What is the best treatment strategy for patients who have post-collapse disease? The Patient, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome (PICO) format was used to formulate the search strategy for each research question. A systematic review will be performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. ARCO participants have been allocated to three groups, each representing one of the PICO questions. After qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data extracted from studies pertaining to each of the three research questions, a set of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines will be proposed for the management of patients who have ONFH.
Discussion: It is not always clear which treatment method is optimal for the management of ONFH. Thus, many surgeons have developed and performed various procedures based on patient-specific factors. As there is no consensus on the optimal treatment for various stages of disease, it was clear that developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines would provide more structure and uniformity to management of these patients. Therefore, the results of this systematic review will lead to the development guidelines that may improve patient-care strategies and result in better outcomes for patients who have ONFH.