Osteochondritis Dissecans

Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint?

Osteochondritis dissecans is a joint disorder where there is disruption in the blood supply to the bone and its adjacent cartilage.

Osteochondritis dissecans can affect any joint such as knee, elbow, and ankle joints. This condition is common in adolescents and males.

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

The cause of Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint is often unknown. Symptoms are knee joint pain, stiffness, and sometimes locking of the knee joint. Imaging studies confirm the diagnosis of osteochondritis dissecans of Knee Joint. Treatment involves arthroscopic surgery to remove the loose cartilage and bone tissue from the knee joint.

Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint occurs due to the separation of a fragment of cartilage (sometimes with some attached bone also) from the surface of the joint. This occurs due to the blood supply getting disrupted. Common site for this condition is the medial femoral condyle. This fragment is also occasionally known as a loose body because it floats around within the knee joint.

Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint may also be referred to as an Osteochondral Fracture. The term Osteochondritis Dissecans is actually losing acceptance, as the 'itis' at the end suggests inflammation and there is no inflammation present in this injury. It is twice more common in males.

Symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint:

The severity of the symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint depends on the extent of displacement of the fragment. In case of little or no displacement there could be few or no symptoms and the affected site usually heals itself. In cases where the fragment is completely displaced and is 'floating' in the joint, the symptoms are:

  • Throbbing joint pain.
  • Swelling is present and gets worse by activity.
  • Locking or catching of the knee may be present.
  • Feeling of unstable knee or the knee giving way underneath.
  • There is a decrease in range of motion.
  • Imaging studies such an X-ray, MRI or CT scan helps to confirm the presence of osteochondritis dissecans.

Causes of Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint:

  • Injury or trauma.
  • Overuse or abuse of the joint.
  • Disturbances in growth.
  • Weakness of the ligament.
  • Injury to the cartilage.
  • Genetics/hereditary.

Treatment for Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint:

Treatment for Osteochondritis Dissecans:

  • Conservative treatment is often followed for Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint.
  • RICE technique should be applied to reduce knee swelling.
  • Physical therapy should be done in order to maintain full range of motion and strengthen the surrounding knee muscles.
  • Severe cases of Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint require immobilization for healing.
  • NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may be prescribed to help in pain caused due to Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint.
  • In severe cases where conservative treatment has failed, surgery may be required for Osteochondritis Dissecans of Knee Joint. Surgery is performed via arthroscopy. The type of procedure followed depends on the patient and the extent of the injury. Any loose bodies are removed and the fracture site is repaired.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 13, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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