BACKGROUND: Osteonecrosis has been associated with the presence of white matter lesions. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between macro- and micro- vascular disease and white matter lesions.
METHODS: Sixty-four patients with femoral head osteonecrosis were assessed during a cross sectional study in our university-based hospital. A vascular 'profile' was obtained for each patient and included measurement of plasma lipids, fundoscopic examination and common carotid artery triplex ultrasonography. All patients had brain MRI to assess for presence of white matter lesions. The two groups formed, with and without white matter lesions, were compared in order to define the association between white matter lesions and vascular disease.
RESULTS: Patients without white matter lesions had more frequently corticosteroid induced osteonecrosis. There was no difference in the two groups with respect to intima media thickness and ApoB/ApoA1 ratio. Only one of our patients demonstrated retinopathy.
CONCLUSIONS: There is no evidence of concurrent macro- and micro- vascular pathology in young patients with white matter lesions and femoral head osteonecrosis. Cortisone appears to have a 'protective' effect against occurrence of white matter lesions.