Sports Medicine

Osteochondritis Dissecans

Our Pediatric Sports Medicine team put together these videos to provide information for you.

Drew Warnick, MD

Hello my name is Dr. Drew Warnick, and I am the surgical director of Johns Hopkins All Children's Sports Medicine program. I am a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon with special training in pediatric and adolescent sports medicine.
In this video, we are going to discuss osteochondritis dissecans.

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition that develops in the joints of children and adolescents. It occurs when a small piece of joint surface begins to crack and loosen. This small segment of joint surface can then separate from its surrounding region. The most common joints affected by Osteochondritis dissecans are the knee, ankle, and elbow. The condition usually affects just one joint, but some children can develop Osteochondritis dissecans in multiple joints.

What Causes Osteochondritis Dissecans?

It is not known exactly what causes the disruption to the blood supply and the resulting Osteochondritis dissecans lesion. It is likely caused by repetitive trauma or stresses to the bone over time.

What happens if you have Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans causes pain and swelling of the joint. Symptoms are often brought on by physical activity and sports. When the joint surface has separated, symptoms such as locking and catching can occur.

How do I know if I have an Osteochondritis Dissecans?

The Sports Medicine program at Johns Hopkins All Children's, can examine you with specific tests to help diagnose Osteochondritis Dissecans. X-rays will show an Osteochondritis dissecans lesion and An MRI can help determine the extent to which the overlying cartilage is affected.

What are my treatment options?

The Sports Medicine program will develop a treatment plan for osteochondritis dissecans.

In some cases, Osteochondritis dissecans lesions in children and adolescents may heal on their own with activity restriction.

Surgery may be needed if nonsurgical methods have failed to relieve pain and the lesion has not healed.

There are many different surgical techniques for treating osteochondritis dissecans lesions, depending on the individual case. These techniques can involve drilling into the lesion, or holding the lesion in place with bio-absorbable screws to create new pathways for blood vessels to nourish and heal the affected area.


Most patients have activity restrictions after surgery and need physical therapy. A gradual return to activity is allowed after the lesion has healed, and this may take many months.

Joint pain?

If your child has joint pain and you’re concerned he or she may have osteochondritis dissecans, call 727-76SPORT to schedule an appointment with our Sports Medicine physicians, who will determine a diagnosis and recommend further treatment..

Call 727-767-7678

Joint surgery?

If your child has been diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans and you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopaedic surgeons, call Children’s Orthopaedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates (COSSA), L.L.P., at 727-898-2663. Surgical treatment for sports injuries at Johns Hopkins All Children’s is provided by the surgeons at COSSA.

Call 727-898-2663