A new osteonecrosis treatment could help more patients avoid hip replacements, experts claim.
The procedure involves removing stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow and mixing them with crushed bone from someone who has already undergone hip replacement surgery.
These cells are then inserted back into the joint after an operation to take out the dead and damaged tissue.
People who suffer from osteonecrosis often develop severe arthritis due to bone damage caused by poor blood supply.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Doug Dunlop, who helped to develop the new treatment at Southampton General Hospital, said the response among patients had been positive.
“Although this work is still ongoing, several patients who have had the procedure have reacted very well and, if we get the results we are hoping for, these patients won’t need to have their hip joints replaced - they should be fixed completely.”
Musculoskeletal specialist Professor Richard Oreffo at the University of Southampton worked with Mr Dunlop to create the procedure.
He said: “By using stem cells to send out chemical signals to blood vessels, we hope the body will continue to create new vessels in the hip which supply enough nutrients to maintain bone strength.”