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Transient marrow edema syndrome (TMES) of the hip is a disease of acute onset and severe functional disability. There is histological evidence for an ischemic etiology of TMES of the hip. Core decompression as applied for avascular necrosis (AVN) of the hip is therefore a therapeutic alternative to conservative therapy, the latter leading only to a reduction of symptoms but never a shortening of the course of the disease.Between January 1998 and June 2000, 22 hips with TMES were treated with core decompression in our department. TMES was diagnosed by exclusion. MRI was done preoperatively and at 6 months postoperatively. The postoperative MRI result was classified into three categories.After an average of 7.2 (range 1-30) days, all patients were pain-free after core decompression. In 2 patients, TMES progressed to AVN despite core decompression. All others had no signal alterations of the head of the femur on MRI after 6 months. The postoperative Harris Hip Score (HHS) in patients with TMES was on average 93.7 (range 77-95); in patients with AVN, the postoperative HHS was 47 (range 45-49).Our results demonstrate that core decompression of the hip significantly shortens the natural course of disease of TMES of the hip.