Osteochondritis Dissecans

Osteochondritis Dissecans

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

At the Children's Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, we know you want physicians who are skilled in the latest techniques to care for your child. Our pediatric orthopaedic specialists have extensive training to diagnose and treat bone and cartilage injuries like osteochondritis dissecans with minimally invasive procedures.

Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition of the joint in which blood is not flowing properly to a section of bone, causing some of the bone and surface cartilage (articular cartilage) to decay. Sometimes, the affected bone and cartilage will break loose and irritate the joint, causing pain, tenderness and swelling. (Learn more about articular cartilage injury.)

Pediatric patients come to the Children's Health Andrews Institute from all over North Texas for our advanced and effective tests, treatments and therapies, all available in one convenient location. Fortunately, osteochondritis dissecans is a rare condition, and can most often be treated without surgery.

What are the signs and symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans is a joint injury that occurs in children and teens because of their active lifestyles — especially those who play sports.

While the exact cause of osteochondritis dissecans is unknown, physicians believe repetitive, high-impact strain or stress to the bone may be a factor. It’s commonly found in the knee, ankle and elbow, though it can affect any joint in the body.

Osteochondritis dissecans affects different children in different ways. Some children with mild cases may not experience symptoms, while others with loose bone or cartilage fragments may experience significant and persistent pain.

Signs and symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Limited range of motion in the joint
  • Feeling as if the joint is giving out, “popping,” “locking” or “catching”

How is Osteochondritis Dissecans diagnosed?

If your child is experiencing joint pain, swelling and limited range of motion, our physicians will conduct a thorough diagnosis to determine if osteochondritis dissecans is the problem.

Diagnostic testing may include:

  • Physical exam: Looks at your child’s injured joint, checking for any loose fragments inside
  • X-ray: Uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to take detailed images of bones inside the joint
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan: Uses magnetic fields to take detailed pictures of the bones and cartilage

After these tests, your physician will meet with you and your child to review results and discuss the best, least-invasive treatment plan.

How is Osteochondritis Dissecans treated?

At the Children's Health Andrews Institute, we are committed to helping your child return safely to normal activities like sports and play. We offer a wide variety of minimally invasive treatment options that restore joint function and promote fast healing and quick recovery.

Physicians start with conservative treatment approaches including:

  • Activity modification
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation

If symptoms continue to worsen, we may recommend minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. (Learn more about arthroscopy.)

Osteochondritis Dissecans Doctors and Providers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is osteochondritis dissecans common in children?

    No, it’s a relatively rare condition. When it does happen, it most often occurs in the knee.

  • Can osteochondritis dissecans heal without surgery?

    Yes, most children can heal from osteochondritis dissecans without surgery. Physicians start with conservative treatment approaches including activity modification and rehab. Strengthening the muscles in and around the affected joint will help protect it from further injury.