Issue Description Osteochondritis dessicans (OCD) is a
hereditary disease that occurs early in the development of some dogs,
and less often in horses and cats. The condition is characterized by
cracks and flaps in articular cartilage, which cause inflammation,
joint instability, pain, lameness, and degenerative joint disease. Other Names OCD
Causes Most often the cause is rapid bone development,
so OCD is usually found in puppies between four and eight months old.
However, it can occasionally be found in older dogs, as well as
smaller breeds. It affects male dogs about five times more often than
Symptoms The symptoms are lameness in the affected limb.
Some dogs have a barely noticeable limp and others are unable to bear
any weight on the leg. The lameness tends to worsen after periods of
exercise and improves after rest. Seventy four percent of the cases of
OCD occur in the shoulder joint, 11% in the elbow, and 4% in the hock.
When it affects the front shoulder, a shortened forelimb stride may be
noted due to reluctance to flex and extend the shoulder joint.
Occasionally, the disease will affect both limbs simultaneously and
the dog may be reluctant to move.
Diagnosis The problem develops in puppyhood although
often subclinically, and there may be pain or stiffness, discomfort on
extension, or other compensating characteristics. Diagnosis generally
depends on X-ray's, arthroscopy, or MRI scans. While cases of OCD of
the stifle go undetected and heal spontaneously, others are exhibited
in acute lameness. Surgery is recommended once the animal has been
Osteochondritis dissecans is difficult to
diagnose clinically as the animal may only exhibit an unusual gait.
Consequently, OCD may be masked by, or misdiagnosed as, other skeletal
and joint conditions such as hip dysplasia.
Treatment Treatment of affected joints may be surgical or
conservative. The optimum treatment for some joints remains
Conservative treatment is usually reserved
for animals with no or minimal clinical signs or where there is
moderate to severe degenerative joint disease.
treatment consists of removal of the cartilage flap and /or joint
pieces floating in the joint.
Dog Breeds Prone to Osteochondritis