Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Osteochondritis Dissecans Treatment

Osteochondritis Dissecans Treatment Options

Many growing children can heal from osteochondritis dissecans without surgery. For these children, we offer physical therapy programs designed to keep their muscles strong while protecting their joints. Our therapists teach your child exercises to help keep them strong while they are healing.

Often, it takes between six and 18 months for children to heal. During that time, we offer rehabilitation services in our on-site sports lab.

If your child needs more treatment, we may provide a non-surgical therapy called unloader bracing. In this treatment, your child wears a brace to push the knee into a position that decreases the stresses on the OCD.

Surgery for Osteochondritis Dissecans

If your child needs surgery, we often begin treatment with procedures that use special tools called arthroscopes. Arthroscopes can reach the joint through very small cuts (incisions). Using arthroscopy, doctors insert a tiny camera through the incision. The camera is attached to a video monitor, like a television. The doctor uses the monitor to see inside the knee.

Then doctors punch tiny holes in the bone near the spot where the cartilage and bone have separated. As the bone heals, it forms cells that have the potential to make new cartilage (scar cartilage). These procedures are called arthroscopic drilling and microfracture operations.

Arthroscopy allows doctors to get to the joint without opening it up. This means your child may recover faster, have fewer problems after surgery and have less pain and stiffness during recovery.

In more persistent cases of OCD, doctors can transplant bone or cartilage to your child's knee to help in healing. In this procedure, we either use:

  • plugs of bone topped with cartilage from your child's knee
  • plugs from a similarly shaped knee donated to the bone bank, the Northwest Tissue Center