What is osteochondritis dissecans?

These are localised areas of damage to the cartilage surface and underlying bone. Over two-thirds of lesions affect the lower inner part of the thigh bone at the knee (medial femoral condyle). They can present in childhood or adulthood. In some individuals, there is a hereditary predisposition to osteochondritis dissidents. Other possible causes include trauma and problems with the local blood supply. 

The process starts as softening of a region of cartilage, which can go on to detach with a variable amount of underlying bone. This fragment can then separate to cause a loose body in the knee

What are the symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans presents with pain and swelling. A floating fragment of cartilage can cause a sudden painful limitation in knee movement, known as “mechanical locking”.

How is Osteochondritis Dissecans diagnosed?

Usually, the symptoms and a careful examination will suggest the diagnosis. An x-ray can be useful, but an MRI scan is the investigation of choice.

How is it treated?

This depends mainly on 2 things: your age and whether the region of cartilage is still attached (stable) or not. Stable lesions in growing children respond really well to restricted weight-bearing and bracing. Unfortunately, adults don’t respond as well to non-operative measures and may require surgery. If the lesion remains attached, one can encourage the affected region of cartilage to heal by drilling into the underlying bone (subchondral drilling). If the lesion is close to detaching or is already separated but in good condition, it can be fixed with special screw devices. If this fails or the detached fragment is in poor condition, the condition is treated as an established osteochondral defect.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or is experiencing pain across their lower limbs or difficulty with mobility and would like a consultant-led review, please contact us. Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of knee-related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of knee-related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


If you would like to learn about other knee conditions click the button below to find out more


If you would like to learn about other knee treatments click the button below to find out more


The Knee Service at Grosvenor Orthopaedic Partners is led by Mr Luke Jones and Mr Chethan Jayadev, both Oxford PhD educated knee surgeons with London Teaching Hospital NHS consultant posts. They provide a comprehensive range of knee procedures as part of a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals including highly specialised physiotherapists, all committed to returning you to optimal function.

Our team are well placed to manage and treat a diverse range of knee problems utilising cutting edge diagnostic technology and treatment approaches, both surgical and conservative. Below is an overview of some of the knee conditions we treat but for a more thorough understanding please contact our team here


Consultant Orthopaedic Knee Surgeon

DPhil(Oxon), FRCS(Tr&Orth), MB BS, BSc(hons)
Luke is a Consultant Knee Surgeon practising at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and the Lister Hospital, Chelsea. He runs a high volume bespoke specialist knee practice that deals with all aspects of knee surgery from minor sports injuries to complex joint reconstructions.


Consultant Orthopaedic Knee Surgeon

MA(Oxon) BMBCh DPhil(PhD) FRCS(Tr&Orth)
Chethan is a Consultant Knee Surgeon practising at the world-renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore, Spire Bushey Hospital and King Edward VII’s Hospital. His practice encompasses all aspects of knee surgery, from sports injuries and knee preservation to complex and redo joint replacements. He has a reputation as a thorough, meticulous surgeon offering patients a bespoke and personalised service. He is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date and evidence-based care. Chethan is a strong advocate of patient choice and always puts patients first


Consultant Orthopaedic Knee Surgeon

MBBS MSc FRCS (Tr & Orth)
Mark is a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon with a passion for sports related injuries. He strives to not only provide excellent surgical treatments but also rounded, bespoke care that allows his patients to get back to the activities they love. This is evident in his specialist training which includes a Master’s degree in Sports Medicine from University College London to help him when treating all levels of athletes. Alongside surgical treatments, Mr. Webb offers non-operative (conservative) options including using orthobiologics, such as PRP and stem cells, to treat the symptoms of early arthritis, as well as tendon injuries. Treatment plans are tailored to the patient’s requirements and expectations using the best evidence available

What some of our patients say

Mrs JS

Thank you to the whole team for getting me back on my feet again