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  • Ostechondritis Dissecans – a case study

    Posted on by Abii Dowdy

    Earlier this year we were called out to see Skye due to mild left hind limb lameness, which was slightly worse after flexion of the leg. On closer examination our vet Matthew could feel a small, free-moving piece of bone on the front of the stifle. The fragment could be felt just below the “patella” or kneecap but when Skye bent her leg it would disappear back into the stifle joint.

    X-rays taken a few days later showed there was a large bony fragment within the stifle joint. This was an ossified piece of cartilage that had separated from its normal attachment to the femur due to a condition called Ostechondritis Dissecans (OCD).

    This developmental disease causes problems with the formation of cartilage and the underlying bone within joints. It is normally caused by a combination of factors, which may include:

    ·      Rapid growth and large body size

    ·      High energy or imbalanced diet

    ·      Genetics

    ·      Hormone imbalances

    ·      Trauma or excess exercise

    Loose flaps or fragments of cartilage cause inflammation in the joint and over time may lead to arthritis. Sometimes they are picked up due to joint swelling or lameness, but commonly they do not cause clinical signs for several years. In Skye’s case it is likely the fragment was previously a flap with poor attachment to the bone, which then broke off causing inflammation and pain within the joint.

    Though some cases respond to conservative management a fragment such as Skye’s requires surgical removal. This was performed at our Towcester Clinic by visiting consultant surgeon Phil Cramp, a Diplomate of both the American and European Colleges of Veterinary Surgeons. The surgery went very smoothly. It involved removal of the fragment and scraping back the unhealthy bone from which it had broken off, back to healthy bone underneath.

    We are delighted with Skye’s progress who is now back competing after a looong exercise programme, which her owner Jasmine stuck to meticulously! We wish them every success building up to the 2017 eventing season.