Femoral head avascular necrosis: correlation of MR imaging, radiographic staging, radionuclide imaging, and clinical findings

Radiology. 1987 Mar;162(3):709-15. doi: 10.1148/radiology.162.3.3809484.


To better correlate the appearance of avascular necrosis (AVN) of the femoral head on magnetic resonance (MR) images with the stage of disease, MR images of 56 proved AVN lesions were compared with staging from corresponding radiographs (n = 56), Tc-99m scans (n = 41), and grade of symptoms (n = 28). Fractures complicating AVN were seen in 28 (50%) of 56 radiographs (radiographic stages III-V). With long repetition (TR) and echo delay (TE) times, a characteristic "double line sign" consisting of high signal intensity inside a low-intensity peripheral rim was seen in 45 lesions (80%). The central region within the rim was isointense with marrow fat on both short and long TR and TE images in 20 (71%) of 28 lesions uncomplicated by fracture (stages I-II) but in only four (14%) of 28 stage III-V lesions (P less than .001). Symptoms were least severe in lesions isointense with fat and most severe in lesions with low-signal central regions at short and long TRs and TEs. The peripheral double line sign on long TR/TE images may add specificity to the diagnosis of AVN by MR imaging. A chronologic pattern of central MR signal features is presented which may allow staging of AVN by MR imaging.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Femur Head Necrosis / diagnosis*
  • Femur Head Necrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate


  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate