Explained: What is avascular necrosis or bone death, a new post-Covid complication?

As suggested by the name, bone death or avascular necrosis is a condition of the death of the bone tissue due to lack of blood supply. Most of the cases that the doctors are getting now are of steroid-induced bone death.
High dose of steroids in the treatment of the Covid can lead to avascular necrosis or bone death, doctors have said. (Representative image)(PTI)
High dose of steroids in the treatment of the Covid can lead to avascular necrosis or bone death, doctors have said. (Representative image)(PTI)
Published on Jul 07, 2021 11:04 AM IST
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By | Written by Poulomi Ghosh

Many patients recovering from Covid-19 have complained of joint pain which has started worrying doctors that this bone death, medically known as avascular necrosis, could be another devastating post-covid complication like mucormycosis. There has been no government data regarding this as an emerging trend, but hospitals in Mumbai and Delhi have confirmed such cases.

What is bone death or avascular necrosis?

As suggested by the name, this condition denotes the death of the bone tissue due to lack of blood supply. If there is a dislocated joint or a broken bone, it can interrupt the blood flow.

Watch: Senior doctor explains new post-Covid complication

What is the cause of bone death?

According to doctors the overuse of steroids during the treatment of Covid-19 is the suspect behind this unnatural bone damage. Steroidsmmake bones soft and then cartilage reduced blood supply. While avascular necrosis might have many reasons, the cases being reported now are induced by steroids.

Symptoms

Persistent hip pain, joint pain.

When can it happen?

It will not happen immediately, as doctors have said. It may take 3 months to one year time. But if you have not been treated with steroids during your Covid-19 treatment, then you may not have any reason to worry. Also, a very high dose of steroids may lead to this malfunction.

Treatment

Medical treatment for three to six weeks is recommended. If the pain persists, then patients are advised to undergo an MRI which will detect whether it is a case of bone death or not. Surgery is required at a very advanced stage, doctors have said.

Dr Ishwar Bohra, Senior consultant, Joint replacement Surgeon, Centre for orthopaedics, BLK institute for Bone, joint replacement told ANI, "Bone death is not new, but now is being seen as a post-Covid-19 effect. Like other post-Covid sufferings, recently we are seeing in the bone and joint segment avascular necrosis of the femoral head because lots of steroids use in the Covid treatment. The hip and shoulder are the areas which should not be ignored, if there is pain."

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022