Patient Information Resources

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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I just found out that I have a condition called osteochondritis dissecans. Even though most guys who get this are in their teens, I'm 29-years-old and just coming down with it. The doc wants to do surgery right away. I was in such a panic, I left his office without asking more questions. What's the hurry on having surgery right away?

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a disorder of the bone with a fracture in the joint surface that doesn't heal naturally. The problem can affect children, teens, and adults. In younger patients, the cause of the problem and treatment might differ from adults. Treatment is more likely to begin conservatively in younger patients who are still growing and therefore still have a rich blood supply to the bone. In older patients who are skeletally mature (no longer growing), the detached fragment has no blood supply and will die. Adults also tend to have more fibrous scar tissue formed between the joint and the detached lesions. The prognosis for adults who don't have surgery to treat this problem is poor. Based on many studies, we know that healing isn't likely to occur without some surgical intervention. And even with surgery, the risk of developing arthritis later is pretty high. The real question for you might be more along the lines of what type of surgery would the surgeon suggest? There are many different options right now and no clear sense of which one is superior to the others. Your surgeon will be evaluating the size, location, and type of lesion(s) present in making the treatment decision that's best for you. Your age, activity level, and overall general health will also be important considerations.


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