Osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum is an injury that often afflicts young athletes, especially young gymnasts and baseball pitchers. In this video, I discuss the problem and its treatment options.

Like osteochondritis dissecans of the knee, osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum, or OCD, involves a similar lesion in the elbow of young athletes. The bone under the articular cartilage starts to die for unknown reasons. Often the articular cartilage remains intact. Occasionally it can fragment, leaving a loose piece of bone and cartilage floating in the elbow and cause pain and popping.

Signs and symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum

A young athlete will complain of dull pain or soreness and swelling. If the lesion has broken free in the joint, he or she might complain of catching, clicking, or locking.

Osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum is a common elbow injury among youth baseball pitchers.

Treatment options for osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum

Young athletes with open growth plates can often avoid surgery. Often rest from sports can help the lesion heal.

If the osteochondritis dissecans lesion is loose within the joint or felt to be unstable by x-ray or MRI, surgery is often necessary. The nature of the surgery depends on the nature of the lesion. Options range from arthroscopically debriding the lesion or removing it and drilling holes to try to stimulate fibrocartilage formation. Occasionally cylinders of bone and cartilage can be placed in the defect to try to recreate the normal contour of the joint.

Also read:
Elbow injury: 5 serious injuries in athletes and active people
Elbow injury: Common injuries suffered by young baseball pitchers

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