Osteochondral lesions of the talar dome are relatively common causes of ankle pain and disability. Trauma is the most common cause, but ischemic necrosis, endocrine disorders, and genetic factors may have etiologic significance. Medial lesions are usually located posteriorly on the dome of the talus, whereas lateral lesions are most frequently located anteriorly. Although the staging system described by Berndt and Harty remains popular, it may not accurately reflect the integrity of the articular cartilage. Small lesions of the talar dome may be present despite a normal appearance on plain radiography. Bone scintigraphy may show increased radionuclide uptake in the talar dome. Magnetic resonance imaging is also sensitive for identifying intraosseous abnormalities in the talus and has the added benefit of revealing other types of soft-tissue lesions not visible on routine radiographic studies. Computed tomography remains the imaging technique of choice when delineation of a bone fragment is desired. Nonoperative management of osteochondral lesions, including restricted weight-bearing and/or immobilization, is recommended unless a loose fragment is clearly present. Surgical options include drilling (usually reserved for intact lesions), debridement of the lesion with curettage or abrasion of the bone bed, internal fixation of the fragment, and bone grafting. Recent technical advances allow these procedures to be performed arthroscopically, with potential reduction of surgical trauma, length of hospital stay, and complication rates.
Dr. Stone is Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
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