The pathogenesis of osteoarthritis of the hip. Evidence for primary osteocyte death

C. Needs, C. R. Dunstan, E. Hills, J. Garvan

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    Osteocyte viability was investigated in femoral head bone removed from 38 patients with chronic hip disease, with the use of a histochemical stain to demonstrate lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity in osteocytes. Where the osteocyte cytoplasm did now show LDH activity, the cell was considered dead; when several adjacent osteocytes were dead, the bone in that area was regarded as nonviable. The preoperative diagnoses were idiopathic osteoarthritis in 25, chondrocalcinosis in six, rheumatoid arthritis in two, Paget's disease in two, avascular necrosis in two, and congenital dislocation of the hip in one patient. In 16 of the patients with idiopathic osteoarthritis and the two with avascular necrosis, nonviable osteocytes were present in the central regions of many trabeculae, these areas usually being separated by cement lines from viable bone. The pattern suggested previous necrosis of part of the femoral head, with later new bone formation. The pattern was not observed in either control subjects, or patients with known articular disease, such as chondrocalcinosis. Bone collapse of variable severity was apparent radiographically in nine patients with histologic bone death, but not in other patients. Bone death is commonly present in idiopathic osteoarthritis and could be a cause rather than a result of the arthritis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)305-312
    Number of pages8
    JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
    VolumeNo. 214
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 1987


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