Background: We are not aware of any clinical studies in the literature comparing the results of vascularized and nonvascularized fibular grafting for the treatment of osteonecrosis of the femoral head. The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical results of free vascularized fibular grafting with those of nonvascularized fibular grafting.
Methods: Two hundred patients (220 hips) with osteonecrosis of the femoral head were treated with free vascularized fibular grafting at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and ninety-nine patients (123 hips) were treated with nonvascularized fibular grafting at the Kyungpook National University Hospital in Korea. From these populations, two groups of fifty hips each, followed for a minimum of three years (average, five years), were matched by the stage, size, and etiology of the lesion and by the mean preoperative Harris hip score. A retrospective case-control study of these groups was then performed to compare the postoperative Harris hip scores as well as the prevalences of radiographic progression and collapse of the femoral head following free vascularized fibular grafting with those measures following nonvascularized fibular grafting.
Results: The mean Harris hip score improved for 70% of the hips treated with free vascularized fibular grafting: seventeen hips (34%) were rated excellent, fourteen (28%) were rated good, nine (18%) were rated fair, and ten (20%) were rated poor. The mean Harris hip score improved for 36% of the hips treated with nonvascularized fibular grafting: five hips (10%) were rated excellent; nine (18%), good; sixteen (32%), fair; and twenty (40%), poor. The rate of survival at seven years for the Stage-I and II hips (precollapse) was 86% after treatment with free vascularized fibular grafting compared with 30% after nonvascularized fibular grafting.
Conclusions: The results of this study strongly suggest that vascularized fibular grafting is associated with better clinical and radiographic results.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level III-2 (retrospective cohort study). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.