Autologous (non-vascularised) fibular grafting with recombinant bone morphogenetic protein-7 for the treatment of femoral head osteonecrosis

preliminary report

M. Papanagiotou, K. N. Malizos, M. Vlychou, Z. H. Dailiana


This preliminary study evaluates a combination of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-7 and non-vascularised autologous fibular grafting (AFG) for the treatment of osteonecrosis of the femoral head.

BMP-7/AFG combination was applied in seven pre-collapse femoral heads (five Steinberg stage II, two stage III) in six patients. Pre- and post-operative evaluation included clinical (Harris hip score (HHS), visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain) and radiological assessment (radiographs, quantitative CT) at a mean follow-up of 4 years (2 to 5.5).

A marked improvement of function (mean HHS increase of 49.2) and decrease of pain level (mean VAS decrease of 5) as well as retention of the sphericity of the femoral head was noted in five hips at the latest follow-up, while signs of consolidation were apparent from the third post-operative month. One patient (two hips) required bilateral total hip replacement at one year post-operatively. In the series as a whole, quantitative-CT evaluation revealed similar densities between affected and normal bone. Heterotopic ossification was observed in four hips, without compromise of the clinical outcome.

In this limited series AFG/BMP-7 combination proved a safe and effective method for the treatment of femoral head osteonecrosis, leading to early consolidation of the AFG and preventing collapse in five of seven hips, while the operative time and post-operative rehabilitation period were much shorter compared with free vascularised fibular grafts.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:31–5.


  • This research has been co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund – ESF) and Greek national funds through the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) – Research Funding Program: Heracleitus II. Investing in knowledge society through the European Social Fund. The authors wish to thank Dr Konstantinos Kokkinis, chairman of the Department of CT, KAT Hospital Athens, for his assistance with this study.

    Although none of the authors has received or will receive benefits for personal or professional use from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article, benefits have been or will be received but will be directed solely to a research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other non-profit organisation with which one or more of the authors are associated.

    This article was primary edited by G. Scott and first-proof edited by D. Rowley.

  • Received July 10, 2013.
  • Accepted August 22, 2013.
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