Your risk of developing avascular necrosis can be increased by certain diseases, medical treatments or excessive drinking.

Excessive drinking

Several alcoholic drinks a day for several years can cause fatty deposits to form in your blood vessels. This can restrict the flow of blood to your bones. The more alcohol you habitually drink every day,  the higher your risk of avascular necrosis.


Certain types of medications can increase your risk of avascular necrosis. Examples include:

  • Steroids. Taken at high doses and for long periods of time, corticosteroids, such as prednisone, increase your risk of avascular necrosis. Like alcohol, these drugs may increase the amount of fat in your blood, leading to blockage of the small vessels feeding your bones. Doctors often prescribe high doses of corticosteroids for diseases such as vasculitis or lupus.
  • Osteoporosis drugs. People who take bisphosphonates — a type of medicine used to help strengthen bones weakened by osteoporosis — sometimes develop osteonecrosis of the jaw. This risk is higher for people who have received large doses of bisphosphonates intravenously to counteract the damage caused by cancer in the bones.

Medical conditions

Some underlying medical conditions increase your risk of developing avascular necrosis. They include:

  • Lupus
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle cell anemia

Medical procedures

Several types of medical procedures increase your risk of avascular necrosis. Examples include:

  • Cancer treatments such as radiation
  • Dialysis, a process to clean the blood after kidney failure
  • Kidney and other organ transplants
May. 04, 2012

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