Osteochondritis Dissecans

Osteochondritis dissecans ( /ˌɒsti.oʊkɒnˈdraɪtɪs ˈdɪsɨkænz/), often abbreviated to OCD or OD, is a joint disorder in which cracks form in the articular cartilage and the underlying subchondral bone. OCD is caused by blood deprivation in the subchondral bone. This loss of blood flow causes the subchondral bone to die in a process called avascular necrosis. The bone is then reabsorbed by the body, leaving the articular cartilage it supported prone to damage. The result is fragmentation (dissection) of both cartilage and bone, and the free movement of these osteochondral fragments within the joint space, causing pain and further damage.

In humans OCD is a rare disease, occurring in only 15 to 30 people per 100,000 in the general population each year. Although rare, it is an important cause of joint pain in physically active adolescents. Because their bones are still growing, adolescents are more likely than adults to recover from OCD; recovery in adolescents can be attributed to the bone's ability to repair damaged or dead bone tissue and cartilage in a process called bone remodeling. While OCD may affect any joint, the knee tends to be the most commonly affected, and constitutes 75% of all cases. OCD is also a growing concern, especially amongst women, in rural areas of Nigeria, according to research done by the University of Port Harcourt. This is due to the chemical pollution of primary sources of water used for drinking and irrigation in the area.

OCD also is found in animals, and is of particular concern in horses, as there may be a hereditary component in some horse breeds. Feeding for forced growth and selective breeding for increased size are also factors. OCD has also been studied in other animals—mainly dogs, especially the German Shepherd—where it is a common primary cause of elbow dysplasia in medium-large breeds.

OCD usually causes pain and swelling of the affected joint which catches and locks during movement. Physical examination typically reveals an effusion, tenderness, and crepitus. OCD can be difficult to diagnose because these symptoms are found with other diseases. However, the disease can be confirmed by X-rays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. OCD is classified by these imaging techniques, or by arthroscopy of the joint, and represented in stages (I, II, III and IV) of disease progression. Following diagnosis the problem may be treated, depending on its severity, by repairing the cartilage. Non-surgical treatment is rarely an option as the capacity for articular cartilage to heal is limited. As a result, even moderate cases require some form of surgery. When possible, non-operative forms of management such as protected weight bearing (partial or non-weight bearing) and immobilization are used. Surgical treatment varies widely and includes arthroscopic drilling of intact lesions, securing of cartilage flap lesions with pins or screws, drilling and replacement of cartilage plugs, stem cell transplantation, and joint replacement.

Post-operative rehabilitation is usually a two-stage process of immobilization and physical therapy. Most rehabilitation programs combine protection of the joint's cartilage surface and underlying subchondral bone with maintenance of muscle strength and range of motion. During the immobilization period, isometric exercises, such as straight leg raises, are commonly used to restore muscle lost to atrophy without disturbing the cartilage of the affected joint. Once the immobilization period has ended, physical therapy involves continuous passive motion (CPM) and/or low impact activities, such as walking or swimming. Post-operative pain killers, namely a mix of opioids and NSAIDs, are usually required to control pain during recovery.

Franz König coined the term osteochondritis dissecans in 1887, describing it as an inflammation of the bone–cartilage interface. Many other conditions were once confused with OCD when attempting to describe how the disease affected the joint, including osteochondral fracture, osteonecrosis, accessory ossification center, osteochondrosis, and hereditary epiphyseal dysplasia. Some authors have used the terms osteochondrosis dissecans and osteochondral fragments as synonyms for OCD.

Read more about Osteochondritis DissecansClassification, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Epidemiology, History, Veterinary Aspects

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