Osteochondritis dissecans of the knee is being seen with increased frequency in pediatric and young adult athletes and is thought to be, in part, owing to earlier and increasingly competitive sports participation. Despite much speculation, the cause of both juvenile and adult osteochondritis dissecans remains unclear. Early recognition is essential. Whereas adult osteochondritis dissecans lesions have a greater propensity to instability, juvenile osteochondritis dissecans lesions are typically stable, and those with an intact articular surface have a potential to heal with nonoperative treatment through cessation of repetitive impact loading. The value of adjunctive immobilization, protected weightbearing, and unloader bracing has not been established. Skeletally immature patients with stable lesions that have not healed with nonoperative treatment should have consideration given to arthroscopic drilling to promote healing before the lesion progresses and requires more involved treatment with a less optimistic prognosis. Magnetic resonance imaging may allow early prediction of lesion healing potential. The majority of adult osteochondritis dissecans cases as well as those skeletally immature patients with unstable lesions and secondary loose bodies require fixation and possible bone grafting. Many unstable lesions will heal after stabilization, but long-term prognosis is not clear. Chronic loose fragments can be difficult to fix and have poor healing potential. Results of excision of large lesions from weightbearing zones are poor. Chondral resurfacing techniques have limited long-term data for cases of osteochondritis dissecans in skeletally immature patients.

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