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Early Results of Drilling and/or Microfracture for Grade IV Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Capitellum

Lewine, Eliza B. BS; Miller, Patricia E. MS; Micheli, Lyle J. MD; Waters, Peter M. MD; Bae, Donald S. MD

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: December 2016 - Volume 36 - Issue 8 - p 803–809
doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000575
Sports Medicine

Background: Surgical treatment is recommended for patients with unstable osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) of the elbow. However, little information is available comparing the anticipated results from the host of techniques. In this investigation, clinical and radiographic resolution as well as return to sports rates were assessed in adolescent patients following loose body (LB) removal and drilling/microfracture of grade IV lesions.

Methods: We reviewed 21 adolescents treated with LB removal and drilling/microfracture for grade IV elbow OCD. Patients with additional elbow pathology, prior elbow surgery, or <1 year follow-up were excluded. Clinical resolution was defined as resolution of tenderness and radiographic resolution as resolution of edema on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Return to sport rates and Timmerman scores were assessed. Mean clinical and MRI follow-up times were 2.2±1.19 and 2.4±1.54 years, respectively. Clinical and radiographic parameters associated with clinical and/or radiographic resolution or return to sports were determined using penalized likelihood logistic regression. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to evaluate the change in range of motion and in Timmerman scores.

Results: Fifteen (71.4%) patients had either clinical or radiographic resolution at most recent follow-up. Nine (50%) had complete resolution on MRI, whereas 13 (61.9%) were nontender at their follow-up. Four patients with recurrent LBs underwent revision surgery. There were no complications in the 21 index procedures. Eighteen (85.7%) patients returned to any sport, whereas 14 (66. 7%) returned to their primary sport. Elbow flexion and extension improved by medians of 12 and 21 degrees, respectively (P=0.002, 0.01). Timmerman scores improved by a median of 30 (P=0.001). Shorter duration of symptoms correlated with smaller OCD lesions (P=0.03) and with improved clinical or radiographic resolution and return to sport rates.

Conclusions: The majority of patients with grade IV elbow OCD achieves clinical and/or radiographic resolution and return to sports 2 years after LB removal and drilling/microfracture. Recurrence may be seen, however, and further investigation is needed to assess the efficacy of this technique compared with other treatment strategies.

Level of Evidence: Level IV.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Donald S. Bae, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Hunnewell 2, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail:

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