Core Decompression

What is core decompression?

Core decompression is a treatment for debilitating pain in the hip due to osteonecrosis, or death of the cells in the bone or marrow. The pain comes from within the bone (the core) where blood pressure has increased around the dead bone area, causing pressure, restricted circulation and pain. The core decompression procedure involves drilling a hole in the diseased bone to relieve the pressure (decompress) and thus relieve the pain. This procedure is most effective on patients in the early stages of osteonecrosis, before the head (the ball) of the femoral bone (that reaches from knee to hip) has decayed and collapsed.

What to expect from core decompression

To relieve the pressure that is causing you pain, your surgeon will drill a small hole into the diseased bone, using fluoroscopy to locate the exact area of disease. By drilling a hole and creating space, new tissue is able to fill in the hole. This allows blood vessels to regenerate and blood to flow more easily to the area. The surgeon may also use bone grafts from other bones in your body, implanting the bone in the drilled area to encourage bone growth.

In many cases, this procedure provides pain relief that may be immediate and even long term. In other cases, however, it is simply a way to relieve pain and postpone the need for total hip replacement (arthroplasty).