A Review of Knowledge in Osteochondritis Dissecans: 123 Years of Minimal Evolution from König to the ROCK Study Group

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Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) was first described to provide an explanation for the nontraumatic development of loose bodies within a joint. Despite many reports on the subject, there remains no clear understanding of the etiology, natural history, or treatment.


This review was undertaken to delineate (1) the etiology of OCD; (2) the presentation and locations; (3) the most appropriate imaging modalities; and (4) the most effective treatment strategies.


We reviewed the English literature using a database compiled from a Medline search for “osteochondritis dissecans”. We identified 1716 publications, 1246 of which were in English. After exclusions, we reviewed 748 articles and of these cited 85. The observations of each study were then synthesized into this report.


There appears to be no consensus concerning the etiology of OCD lesions. The presentations and locations are variable, but the knee, ankle, and elbow are most commonly involved. Although plain film assessment is important in OCD, there appears to be a trend toward the use of MRI, but the preferred sequences are in evolution. We found no consensus on the treatment of these lesions, related in part to the lack of agreement of methods for assessing outcomes.


Despite more than a century of study, we have made little advancement in our understanding of OCD. A study group has been formed to address this issue and actively seeks to answer these unknown issues regarding OCD.

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