Incidence of Osteochondritis Dissecans in Adults

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Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) has frequently been described in children and adolescents, but cases of OCD in adults are certainly encountered. Little has been published on the epidemiology of OCD in adult patients.


To assess the frequency of OCD lesions in adults and assess the risk by age, sex, and ethnicity.

Study Design:

Descriptive epidemiology study.


The authors assessed all patients aged 20 to 45 years from the entire database of patients enrolled as members of Kaiser Permanente Southern California from January 2011 until December 2013. Kaiser Southern California is an integrated health care system serving a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse population of >3.5 million patients. A retrospective chart review was done on OCD during this period. Inclusion criteria included OCD of any joint. Exclusion criteria included traumatic osteochondral fractures and coexistence of intra-articular lesions other than OCD. Joint involvement/location, laterality, and all patient demographics were recorded.


Among 122 patients, a total of 124 OCD lesions were found. The majority of lesions were in the ankle (n = 76) and knee (n = 43), with 3 foot lesions and 2 elbow lesions identified. OCD lesions were identified in 75 men (62%) and 47 women (38%). Overall incidence rates per 100,000 person-years were 3.42 for all OCD, 2.08 for ankle OCD, and 1.21 for knee OCD. The relative risk of adult OCD for men was twice that of women. The relative risk of adult OCD for white patients was 2.3 that of Asians and 1.7 that of Hispanics. Risk of knee OCD was 3.6 times higher for men than women. As compared with women, men had a higher risk for lateral femoral condyle OCD lesions versus the medial femoral condyle (P = .05; odds ratio [OR], 5.19).


This large cohort study of Southern California adults with OCD demonstrated an increased OR for men (vs women) of OCD in all joints. The majority of symptomatic lesions were present in the ankle rather than the knee, as previously found in children. White and black patients had the highest OR of OCD; men had a significantly greater OR of lateral femoral condyle knee lesions as compared with women.

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