A disease process by which subchondral bone (bone just below the articular cartilage of a joint) loses its blood supply. The bone and its overlying cartilage become damaged, and a fragment of bone may separate from contiguous bone to form loose bodies in the joint; the articular cartilage may or may not remain intact. The process occurs particularly in the femoral condyles of the knee, and also in the ankle and hip joints. The condition may be due to inherited anatomical abnormalities, obstruction of the blood supply to subchondral bone, or physical trauma to the joint. In young people, osteochondritis dissecans is most likely to be due to cumulative stresses on the subchondral bone. Treatment varies from observation to surgical intervention, depending on the age of the patient and severity of the condition. Observation and conservative treatments (e.g. physiotherapy, orthotics, and immobilization) are the usual option for younger patients.
Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.