Avascular Necrosis Treatment Helps a Christmas Wish Come True

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Avascular necrosis (AVN) is one of those “oh crap” diagnoses. Much like cancer or some other awful malady, it sneaks up on you and there’s usually no clear explanation about how it happened. All of a sudden your life is thrown upside down and you’re searching the web for avascular necrosis treatment or surgery options. This is what happened to our patient Julie Cerrone. One minute she’s an active young woman who’s going places, the next she’s on crutches with her life on hold. All Julie wanted for Christmas was to get off those crutches, which was a present that Dr. Pitts at our Colorado facility was able to deliver this year.

What Is Avascular Necrosis?

Avascular necrosis goes by many names, AVN, ON or osteonecrosis. This means that the bone has died off, which often leads to collapse of the structure and then usually severe arthritis in the joint that’s closest to the bone. Patients usually have no idea how they got it, but the most common known and easy to track cause is anti-inflammatory steroid use. AVN patients are usually told to either undergo a joint replacement or aggressive surgery and in the meantime, get on crutches and just hope for the best. It’s as if their lives are suddenly placed into indefinite suspension.

Julie’s story is typical. One minute she was an active young woman who was going places, the next she’s told she has this awful disease and needs a knee replacement. Unfortunately, for someone her age the math around knee replacement didn’t work out. She would still be a relatively young woman when the estimated lifespan of two consecutive knee replacements reached its end. Additionally, most of the 15 doctors she went to wouldn’t even consider the joint replacement because of her autoimmune issues. Suffice it to say that she was in a “no win” situation.

Speaking with Dr. Pitts at our Colorado facility about Julie, he says that she’s one of the sweetest and most positive patients that he’s met. He recalls just before her procedure that her father gave him a look that said, “Don’t mess up my little girl”.

Like many patients, Julie turned to the Internet. At first it was just to stay sane, a way to connect with other people whose lives had been interrupted and placed on indefinite hold by this awful disease. Later it became a passion, as she increasingly found herself representing the patient’s voice on major medical web-sites like Web-MD and at conferences.

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Julie’s Christmas Present from Regenexx

Avascular Necrosis Treatment Patient - Julie C.I’ve always loved the holidays, as Christmas was a big deal at our house growing up in a family of 7 kids on Long Island and that tradition has continued at our house in Colorado. Julie also loves Christmas and friends began asking why she didn’t just put lights on her crutches. Like most patients would, she thought to herself that she wouldn’t be on these silly crutches for long, so there was no reason to make them that big a part a part of her life. However, as the Christmases flashed by, all of a sudden last Christmas became her third with those damned crutches. She knew there had to be some way out of this mess.

Julie is a savvy Internet researcher, so she looked up all the newer treatments for AVN, coming across stem cells. However, like many AVN patients, she could see that some of the treatments being proposed were half baked. Some were overly aggressive, basically taking old surgeries like CORE decompression and throwing in stem cells like magic pixie dust. Then she came across Regenexx, and she knew something was different. These doctors used precise imaging guidance to get the stem cells into the dead bone through an injection. They had also treated hundreds of patients with bone diseases over the last decade. There was even research backing up the procedure they used. So in February of this year she took the plunge and decided it was time to pull the trigger on the Regenexx stem cell procedure for her AVN.

Julie’s Avascular Necrosis Treatment Using the Regenexx Stem Cell Protocol

Speaking with Dr. Pitts at our Colorado facility about Julie, he says that she’s one of the sweetest and most positive patients that he’s met. He recalls just before her procedure that her father gave him a look that said, “Don’t mess up my little girl”. He took that non-verbal advice to heart and carefully guided her high dose isolated stem cells precisely to the exact spot where the bone had died using fluoroscopy.

Julie’s results are on her blog, “It Just a Bad Day, Not a Bad Life”.  However, if you want to get a great sense of what happened, there’s another masterful video produced by Doug Orchard above where she describes that her Christmas wish came true…no crutches for the holidays! Her MRIs have improved and Dr. Pitts is working with her on next steps.

The upshot? Julie’s story is an inspiration to us all here at Regenexx. It’s become our video Christmas card to our patients, friends, and family. So have a wonderful holiday and take a few minutes to bathe in the love, caring, and wonder this year, while remembering that there are people like Julie out there who are celebrating the things we all take for granted!

This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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13 thoughts on “Avascular Necrosis Treatment Helps a Christmas Wish Come True

  1. Margie Cerrone

    Love that our daughter, Julie, is featured as your digital Christmas card!!! It has become ours as well. Watching her take those first steps, without those worn out crutches, will forever be etched in our minds. MERRY CHRISTMAS to Dr. Pitts and your entire hardworking and friendly staff.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Julie so echoes all we strive for at Regenexx and was a joy to all who she came in contact with here. I have passed your Christmas wishes along to Dr. Pitts and staff. We wish you and the whole family a wonderful, joyous Christmas from all of us!

  2. Ivona Dixon

    What an inspiration! Way to take control of your health and your life!

    1. Regenexx Team


      We agree!

  3. Jean Scott

    I am wondering if you could help my 60 year-old son who has had AVN in shoulders and hip for many years.

    1. Regenexx Team

      We’ve had very good success with AVN, of course each case is different. We can certainly take a look at his MRI’s, medical history and speak to him by phone to see if his situation would be a good Candidate for a Regenexx Procedures. Please have him submit the Am I a Candidate form to make this possible. http://www.regenexx.com

  4. Sheila prestwich

    Hi, I’m in England in the U.K., I’m 43 and have just been just diagnosed with a vascular necrosis of the Talus bone. My dream of being a nurse have been shattered , I’m currently in an airboot and on crutches. The stem cell treatment seems amazing. Who do I get in touch with regarding how much it is plse

    1. Regenexx Team

      Our first European location, Regenexx Belgium opened recently in Brussels. London to Brussels 2hr 10 mins on Eurostar! Here is their website: http://oreme.eu/ If you need assistance in reaching them, please call 888 525 3005, M-F, MST, and we’ll be glad to help.

  5. Stacy Turner

    I have AVN if the talus and feel it is related to the MTHFR mutation as I have no other cause of the AVN. I’ve been an ER nurse for 17 years so you can imagine how much I need to walk and be on my feet. I was an avid runner doing fulls and half’s and had signed up for two half’s then in March of this year it all came to a halt. I’ve had 2 MRIs (last one in August) and no change. I can tell it hasn’t improved despite restrictions. I was allowed to walk first week of August and then gradually Walk at work last month. Can I get more info? Does my ortho/podiatrist need to refer me to you? Nov 14th will be 8 months of restricting activity as well as the NWB in that mix. I haven’t given up hope of running yet despite what others have told me.

    1. Regenexx Team

      The trick with AVN is to treat before it continues to escalate. The most common area of AVN is the hip, but the principles and treatment would be the same. There is no need for a referral. To be evaluated for Candidacy, please submit the Candidate form to the right of the blog. Here’s some additional info: https://regenexx.com/blog/avn-hip-stem-cell/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/update-knee-avn-patient/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/hip-avn-surgery-alternative/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/steroids-suck-evidence-stem-cell-toxicity/

  6. Corrine Stout

    Dead bone can be injected? Even at stage 4/5? Only in the knee and hip even after the joint collapses? What about other joints? I just visited a Regenexx doctor about my avn in my 2nd and 3rd metatarsal heads. I needed clarification because it only seemed like he was going to inject my toes (where he probed) and not my metatarsal heads (where the avn is).

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      This approach generally works in early pre-collapse AVN. Injecting the meta-tarsal heads would be more challenging, so likely limited to certain Regenexx sites where they have more expertise in small bone intraosseous injections. Consider getting a Telemed visit with Colorado.

  7. Aaron Matthies

    I am a 52 year old w/m. Was first diagnosed with AVN in 2017. At the time, my primary care physician told me it was an isolated incident/situation. 4 years (and 1 left total knee replacement surgery) later… I quickly found out that my Doctor really didn’t know what he was talking about. Due to a freak accident of which resulted in a fractured pelvis (2 + years later) I found out that my AVN had spread to both hips and my right knee. To say I was stunned is a grave understatement. To top it off… I lost my employment and housing due to my illness. Fast forward to now, end of 2020, I am still without housing. Thank God I was approved for SSI on a fast track but regardless… I wake up everyday praying I do not encounter a fracture in either hip or knee. Lastly, I was rejected by over 20 orthopedic surgeons due to my diagnosis of AVN. Finally found one in Dr. Michael Hellman via California Orthopedic. Dr. Hellman saved my life, period. Next step is to secure housing so I can get hips and other knee replaced. Godspeed to anyone who is having to deal with this trouble, life altering disorder.

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