A Comparison of Transphyseal Neck-Head Tunneling and Multiple Epiphyseal Drilling on Femoral Head Healing Following Ischemic Osteonecrosis: An Experimental Investigation in Immature Pigs

Olumide O. Aruwajoye, Felipe Monte, Audrey Kim, Harry K.W. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: Two operative procedures are currently advocated to stimulate the necrotic femoral head healing in children with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease: transphyseal neck-head tunneling (TNHT) and multiple epiphyseal drilling (MED). The purpose of this study was to compare the bone healing and physeal function after treatment with TNHT or MED in a piglet model of ischemic osteonecrosis. Methods: Eighteen piglets were induced with osteonecrosis by surgically placing a ligature tightly around the right femoral neck. One week later, the piglets were assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups (n=6/group): (1) local nonweight bearing only (NWB), (2) TNHT plus NWB, or (3) MED plus NWB. The unoperated left femoral heads were used as normal controls. The animals were euthanized at 8 weeks after osteonecrosis induction. Histologic, histomorphometric, radiographic, microcomputed tomography (CT), and calcein-labeling assessments were performed. Statistical analysis included a 1-way ANOVA. Results: Micro-CT analyses showed higher femoral head bone volume in the MED group compared with the TNHT and the NWB groups (P<0.01). The MED group had a higher mean trabecular number (P<0.001) and new bone formation (P=0.001) based on calcein-labeling parameters compared with the TNHT and the NWB groups. In addition, the osteoclast number per bone surface was lower in the MED group compared with the NWB group (P=0.001). Histologic and micro-CT assessments of the proximal femoral physis revealed a larger physeal disruption at the site of physeal drilling in the TNHT group compared with the MED group. However, no significant differences in physeal elongation (P=0.61) and femoral neck length (P=0.31) were observed between the treatment groups. Conclusions: MED produced a higher bone volume and stimulated greater bone formation than the TNHT or the NWB alone. Both procedures did not produce a significant physeal growth disturbance during the study period. Clinical Relevance:: This preclinical study provides evidence that MED produces more favorable bone healing than the TNHT in a large animal model of Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 2 2018



  • avascular necrosis
  • core decompression
  • femoral head osteonecrosis
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • multiple epiphyseal drilling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Cite this