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Osteochondritis Dessicans
May 2002

Q. I was just diagnosed with osteochondritis dessicans. My doctor told me the only way to treat it is with surgery to remove the loose bone and cartilage fragments. Is this true? Will go away on its own?

A. Osteochondritis dessicans is a condition of unknown cause in which the cartilage which covers the end of bones to provide a cushion becomes defective. A piece of the cartilage breaks loose in the joint or simply degenerates, causing inflammation and pain in the joint. As with other forms of cartilage injury, treatment is difficult as the cartilage has limited blood supply and therefore limited healing.

Protecting the joint from impact may allow some cartilage to re-grow. Other treatment options include attempts to transplant cartilage from another site into the area affected, or surgical procedures to try to stimulate new cartilage growth. Treatment is usually done by orthopedic doctors who specialize in the conditions of a particular joint.



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