Reversed flow lateral circumflex femoral vessels as recipients for free fibular grafting in treatment of femoral head osteonecrosis


  • Submitted for presentation at BAPRAS Summer Scientific Meeting, Leeds, 2009.


Free fibular bone grafting is an effective treatment for early osteonecrosis of the femoral head in young patients. However, recipient vessels are often small rendering microvascular anastomosis difficult. We have developed a novel technique using retrograde flow through the branches of the lateral circumflex femoral artery to use the proximal end of the artery as the recipient vessel. A vessel diameter of up to 5 mm is obtained providing a good match with the peroneal vessels. We used this technique to perform vascularized bone grafting of the femoral head in 10 patients with Ficat grade 2 and 3 osteonecrosis. Pulsatile retrograde flow from the lateral circumflex femoral artery was observed in each case. Retrospective review gave a median follow up of 52 months (range 17–99). Symptoms improved in all 10 cases. There was no radiological deterioration over the period of follow-up in eight cases. One patient underwent conversion to a total hip replacement 24 months after surgery. These results compare favorably with other studies. The lateral circumflex femoral artery turnover technique is a reliable and useful technique in vascularized bone grafting of the femoral head. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc. Microsurgery, 2010.