Last Updated on Apr 16, 2013

Diagnosis and Treatment

Once a clinical suspicion of osteochondritis desiccans arises, imaging modalities are used to form a diagnosis.

X-ray: X-ray imaging of the affected joint can show abnormalities. The corresponding joint on the opposite site is also imaged for comparison.

Osteochondritis Dissecans

CT-scan: CT-scans aid to visualise cartilage as well as bone. The location of loose fragments can be pinpointed.

MRI-scan: Magnetic Resonance Imaging provides the images of hard and soft tissues. This helps the doctor in decision making- whether the damage heals with conservative management or whether surgery is indicated.


There is no single treatment for osteochondritis dissecans that is effective for everybody. Prime aims are to restore the normal functionality of joints, to relieve pain and to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.

Adequate rest and protective measures may let bone defects in children to heal, since active childhood is a phase of active bone growth.

Conservative Management:

Rest: Abstain from activities that lay stress on joints such as jumping, running etc.

Physical therapy: Physical therapy involves stretching and range-of-motion exercises. Exercises that strengthen muscles that support the involved joint are also used.

Surgical Management:

Surgery may be required to remove loose fragments or to reattach bone fragments. The procedure may be performed arthroscopically, i.e. making small incisions around the joint and inserting a fibre-optic camera and surgical tools through them.


  1. Mercier LR. Osteochondritis dissecans. In: Ferri FF. Ferri''s Clinical Advisor 2010. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2009.
  2. Miller RH, et al. Osteochondritis dissecans. In: Canale ST, et al. Campbell''s Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2007.
  3. Osteochondritis dissecans. American Academy of Family Physicians.

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