Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Osteochondritis Dissecans is an abnormal development of bone from cartilage. As a result, a flap of cartilage can develop causing lameness in joints such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle (hock). The development of OCD is secondary to multiple factors including diet, growth rate, genetics, trauma, hormonal imbalance and joint architecture.

Who develops OCD?

OCD occurs most frequently in large and giant breeds.  Breeds affected most commonly include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Newfoundlands. Other breeds that can be affected include Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, Old English Sheepdogs, Rottweilers, and Standard Poodles.  Studies have shown that OCD occurs more in male dogs than female dogs.

How is OCD diagnosed?

Most dogs will start showing clinical signs as young as 4-7 months of age. Most are recognized to have a lameness that becomes worse with heavy exercise and after prolonged rest, and it can be seen in multiple limbs/joints.

Radiographs are often diagnostic but in difficult cases other tests, including arthrography (x-rays with contrast within the joint), arthroscopy, CT scan or MRI may be used.

What is the treatment and prognosis?

Arthroscopy is the treatment of choice, although open surgical removal of the OCD lesion can also be performed. Factors that may affect this decision include the joint affected, the degree of secondary arthritis, or if a flap of cartilage is not present. The goal of surgery is to retrieve the flap of unhealthy cartilage and prepare the area where the flap developed to allow a scar-type cartilage (fibrocartilage) to develop.

What is the aftercare?

Following surgery, patients should be restricted to leash confinement for a minimum of 4 weeks. Following that time period, a gradual increase in activity will occur over another 4 weeks. Pain management with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will usually continue for the first 4-7 days after surgery. Long term management includes weight restriction, controlled exercise and pain management as needed.

As genetics play an important role in the development of OCD, any patient diagnosed with this condition should not be bred. In addition, parents, siblings or previous offspring of an affected patient should not be bred.