Does Internal Fixation for Unstable Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Skeletally Mature Knee Work? A Systematic Review

Leland, Devin P., Bernard, Christopher D., Camp, Christopher L., Nakamura, Norimasa, Saris, Daniel B.F. & Krych, Aaron J.

Published: 01/08/2019


To report the rate of radiographic union, patient-reported outcomes, complications, and reoperations after internal fixation of unstable osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) in the skeletally mature knee.

A literature search was conducted according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines. Patients were included if they were skeletally mature and underwent internal fixation of an unstable OCD lesion of the knee. Risk of bias assessment was performed using the Methodological Index for Non-randomized Studies scoring system. Surgical technique, rate of union, patient-reported outcomes, complications, and reoperations were collected.

Thirteen studies resulted in 148 patients (150 knees) for inclusion. Patient age ranged from 14 to 45 years. Numerous fixation procedures were used, including biodegradable devices (rods, pins, nails, and screws), metal screws, Kirschner wire, and autologous bone sticks. Overall, reported outcome measures were heterogeneous in nature. The rate of radiographic healing ranged from 67% to 100% across 6 studies. Improved subjective results and Hughston criteria on final follow-up ranged from 83% to 100% across 4 studies each. Mean postoperative Lysholm scores ranged from 42 to 98 in studies that reported them. Both complication and reoperation rates ranged from 0% to 44%. The most commonly performed reoperations were loose body excision and cartilage resurfacing procedures.

A variety of surgical techniques are available for treatment of unstable OCD lesions in the skeletally mature knee. In this systematic review, internal fixation of the native fragment showed acceptable rates of radiographic union and improved patient-reported outcomes relative to other techniques.

Level of Evidence
Level IV, systematic review of level III-IV studies.

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