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Hidden osteonecrosis of the femoral head after healed femoral neck fractures: magnetic resonance imaging study of 58 consecutive patients

  • Trauma Surgery
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Several studies investigated the posttraumatic osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH) after femoral neck fracture (FNF). However, no study has investigated the hidden ONFH after FNF, which is missed by simple radiographs, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Materials and methods

This retrospective study involved 58 consecutive patients who underwent implant removal surgery after internal fixation due to FNF. MRI was used to investigate the incidence of hidden ONFHs, which were not initially revealed on plain radiographs. The comparisons between hidden ONFH and other groups were performed for patent demographics and clinical variables including ONFH location, lesion size, the progression rate of ONFH collapse, and end-stage arthroplasty conversion rate.


Of the 58 patients, 38 exhibited no evidence of ONFH on plain radiograph screening. However, 13 of the 38 patients were confirmed of hidden ONFH via MRI. The collapse progressed in four of the 13 patients, and one of them underwent total hip arthroplasty surgery. No significant differences were found between the hidden and definite ONFH groups in demographics and clinical variables. However, a significant difference exists between the hidden ONFH and the normally healed FNF groups in terms of the Garden type (P < 0.001).


A large number of cases with hidden ONFH were confirmed using MRI following healed FNF, and most of them were initially displaced FNF. Thus, the treatment method between internal fixation and hip arthroplasty should be carefully selected, particularly with displaced FNF.

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Correspondence to Dou Hyun Moon.

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Kim, CH., Shin, M., Lee, D. et al. Hidden osteonecrosis of the femoral head after healed femoral neck fractures: magnetic resonance imaging study of 58 consecutive patients. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 142, 1443–1450 (2022).

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