Introduction to Osteochondral Defects


What are Osteochondral Defects?

Traditionally, OCDs have been thought to occur as a result of repetitive trauma within the joint. However, more recent studies suggest the possibility of metabolic or genetic causes, which may alter the architecture or composition of the bone.

In OCDs of traumatic origin, such as in patients with a history of ankle instability and recurrent ankle sprains, both the cartilage and the bone are usually affected. These types of injuries may cause a shearing of the cartilage or a focal bone and cartilage injury with a saucer-shaped defect.

In those defects without a history of trauma, in which a De Novo bone injury occurs, the bone scaffold is lost and a cystic lesion forms within the bone, which, as it progresses, may cause the overlying cartilage to collapse into the defect.

How Do Osteochondral Defects Affect You?

As an athlete, you may find it increasingly difficult to perform at your usual level, due to symptoms of pain, swelling, instability and locking or catching sensation in the affected joint.
Osteochondral defects may interfere with non-athletic activities as well, causing you to have pain while walking and hindering you from acomplishing your usual daily activities.

How are Osteochondral Defects diagnosed?

Osteochondral defects are one of many causes of joint pain. Therefore, the workup leading to a diagnosis must be lead by a doctor with experience in the treatment of this type of injury.

A thorough physical examination, combined with the necessary imaging studies, will provide enough information to the orthopaedist to confirm the diagnosis of an osteochondral defect and advice you on the most appropriate form of treatment.