Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Capitellum
Osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum is a well-recognized cause of elbow pain and disability in the adolescent athlete. This condition typically affects young athletes, such as throwers and gymnasts, involved in high-demand, repetitive overhead, or weightbearing activities. The true cause, natural history, and optimal treatment of osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum remain unknown. Suspicion of this condition warrants investigation with proper radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging. Prompt recognition of this disorder and institution of nonoperative treatment for early, stable lesions can result in healing with later resumption of sporting activities. Patients with unstable lesions or those failing nonoperative therapy require operative intervention with treatment based on lesion size and extent. Historically, surgical treatment included arthrotomy with loose body removal and curettage of the residual osteochondral defect base. The introduction of elbow arthroscopy in the treatment of osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum permits a thorough lesion assessment and evaluation of the entire elbow joint with the ability to treat the lesion and coexistent pathology in a minimally invasive fashion. Unfortunately, the prognosis for advanced lesions remains more guarded, but short-term results after newer reconstruction techniques are promising.
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