The portion of the bones forming joint surfaces are covered in cartilage. Osteochondritis dessicans occurs where the cartilage attaches to the bone, often on weight bearing surfaces of the joint. The cartilage can become separated from the bone. This is most commonly found in the knee and ankle, and can affect children as well as adults.
The cause is not completely understood, but may be related to a single traumatic event or repeated stress to the bone. Symptoms include pain, swelling, catching or locking, and restriction of motion.
Diagnosis is made based on patient history and physical exam. Often, OCD can be visualized on an x-ray. An MRI is obtained to further evaluate the cartilage and bone structure and condition.
Treatment is based on the age of the patient, size and location of the injury, and the condition of the cartilage and bone. Conservative treatment can be initiated, often with good results, especially in young patients. Treatment includes non-weight bearing status with crutches, brace immobilization, ice, and potential future therapy. Surgery may be considered if conservative measures fail, or if the cartilage portion becomes loose or detached.