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Osteochondritis dissecans


A localised condition affecting an articular surface that involves separation of a segment of cartilage & subchondral bone.

  • Bilateral in 20-30%

  • posterior lateral aspect of the medial femoral condyle in 70%

  • lateral femoral condyle in 20%

  • patella in 10%OCD

Guhl Arthroscopic Classification

Lesions are classified based on articular cartilage integrity (open or closed) and the stability of the underlying subchondral bone and its bed (stable or unstable). (Clanton & DeLee, CORR 1982);

A - Intact lesions

B - Lesions showing signs of early separation

C - Partially detached lesions

D - Craters with loose bodies (salvageable or unsalvageable)


X-rays & tunnel views

MRI  - to assess the fragment's articular cartilage continuity and the size and viability of its subchondral bone. 

Natural History 

The natural history is directly dependent on age at presentation (Pappas Classification):

  • In the juvenile type (patients with completely open distal femoral physis), the prognosis is excellent if the lesion is a closed, stable one. 

  • In the adolescent with partial physeal closure, the prognosis is unknown because the lesion may act as either the juvenile or adult type. 

  • The adult type (closed physis) has a poorer prognosis because of the limited healing potential of the lesion. 

Treatment (based on Pappas)

Skeletally Immature Patient (< 12yrs):

  • Non Operative treatment is recommended, since the lesion will frequently heal  if the fragment has not detached. 

  • Articular cartilage overlying these lesions should be normal & should protect the OCD defect during healing. 

  • Protected crutch walking and gentle ROM, since ROM is thought to have beneficial effects on cartilage healing.

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