Osteochondritis dessicans is a condition of loosening or detachment of a fragment of cartilage and underlying a bone in a joint. The fragment may be localized, loosely float in the joint space, or completely detach from the cartilage or bone. Exact cause for osteochondritis dessicans remains unknown and certain factors such as trauma, fractures, sprains, or injury to the joint are considered to increase the risk of developing the condition. Following the injury or trauma, the bones in the area may be deprived of blood flow leading to necrosis and finally the bone fragment may break off. This may initiate the healing process however by this time, articular cartilage will be compressed, flattened, and a subchondral cyst will be developed. All these changes in addition to increased joint pressure cause failure of healing of the joint.
Patients with osteochondritis dessicans experience symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness, restricted motion of joints, and locking at the joint.
Your physician may recommend various treatments depending on the reports of diagnostic scans, age, severity, stability of the cartilage and other factors. Goals of treatment are to relieve the symptoms and stop or impede the progression of degeneration of the joint. Conservative treatment approaches such as wait & watch approach, pain medications, and immobilization for 1-2 weeks are recommended if the condition is diagnosed at early stages and if the severity is mild. However surgery is required if the condition is diagnosed at advanced stage or if the condition is severe.
The surgical correction of osteochondritis dessicans can be done using by open technique or arthroscopic techniques. Some of the surgical procedures include drilling, bone grafting, open reduction internal fixation, osteochondral grafting, or autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI).
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