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Osteochondral defects

A condition resulting from a sprained ankle which has failed to settle, creating long-term pain and instability

About

An osteochondral defect is a localised area of joint damage. This involves the underlying bone (osteo) and overlying shock absorbing cartilage (chondral). In the ankle an osteochondral defect usually occurs on the talus bone. The characteristic symptoms are a deep aching pain that fails to settle after an injury but can also occur without injury.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of osteochondral defects icon plus

    Generally pain is the main symptom. This is usually on weight bearing and usually, though not always, localised to the side of the joint on which the osteochondral defect exists. It is also not uncommon to have feelings of instability from the joint, despite the fact that there may be no actual laxity of the normal restraints. This is known as functional instability.
  • Screening and diagnosis icon plus

    These conditions usually occur on the talus bone and are a region where the cartilage and underlying bone have been disrupted, usually after injury. Your consultant will be able to determine the degree of disruption, which can range from bruising to a crater or deep defect on the surface of the joint, lacking the underlying bone as well as cartilage. An osteochondral defect may or may not progress to osteoarthritis and a decision to have treatment will depend upon just how persistent and painful your symptoms may be.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Your consultant will discuss treatment options to determine the best approach for you. Possible surgical treatments might include: - arthroscopic debridement or microfracture, to encourage repair cartilage to form - cartilage repair techniques; there are several newer techniques including autologous cartilage transplantation (ACI/ACT), mosaicplasty or OATS, and stem cell treatments, which may have a role for lesions that have not responded to arthroscopic debridement - hemicap; this is a metallic surface implant which may be advised in certain large lesions
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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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