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  Osteochondritis Dissecans

 

Common names or abbreviations:

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Osteochondrosis

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Osteochondritis dissecans

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OCD

Description or definition:

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Osteochondrosis: is a disease that affects cartilage formation.  If cartilage does not properly calcify, it thickens and prevents synovial fluid from reaching cartilage cells beneath it. The abnormally thickened cartilage is unable to receive a normal supply of nutrients from the joint fluid.  As a result, it becomes weaker and more susceptible to damage such as cracks and lesions.  Because cartilage provides a protective gliding layer between the bones in a joint, when it is injured and lesions form, it can cause pits and abrasions in the bone.  Eventually the dog will experience pain, lameness, and arthritis.  Osteochondrosis can affect many different joints, but in the canine is most commonly seen in the elbow, knee, shoulder, stifle, or hock.  Causative factors for this condition include heredity, injury, and diet.

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Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD):  OCD is one of the common types of canine elbow dysplasia, but can occur in any joint.  It is a form of osteochondrosis that occurs when a weakened layer of cartilage becomes elevated because of joint fluid between it and surrounding cartilage and bone.  These “flaps” of cartilage rub against underlying tissue, causing pain, lameness, and eventually degenerative joint disease.  Sometimes they detach and are either reabsorbed by the body or they may float around freely inside the joint capsule.  When the flap breaks off and floats around in the joint synovial fluid nourishes them and they can become larger, or mineralize.  These pieces not only interfere with movement, they can become wedged inside the joint, further eroding cartilage and causing severe pain.   The body will often attempt to compensate for the damaged cartilage by forming scar tissue or adding bone to the affected area.  This process is called remodeling, and it makes the joint even more unstable and painful.

Symptoms:

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Lameness, pain, and swelling of the affected joint(s).

Diagnosis:

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A definitive diagnosis requires analysis of radiographs (x‑rays) or in some cases specialized studies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), nuclear scintigraphy (bone scans), or arthroscopy  (examination of the joint using a special instrument that is inserted into the joint through a small incision).

Treatment:

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Conservative treatment for mild cases may include, a 6-8 week period of confinement, reduction of weight to reduce stress on the joint, non‑steroidal anti‑inflammatory medications to reduce pain and inflammation, nutraceuticals (dietary supplements that purport to have health benefits but are not regulated as drugs) such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine are often recommended to decrease inflammation, promote the development of new cartilage, strengthen existing cartilage.  It is reported that mild defects can sometimes heal with conservative treatment including strict crate rest.  In other cases, however, long term management or surgery may be necessary.
 

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There is a surgical treatment for OCD that involves opening up the affected joint to expose the lesion, removing or reshaping the abnormal cartilage, and exposing blood vessels.  The surgeon may scrape the cartilage bed to stimulate healing because one of the goals of the surgery is to cause scar cartilage to fill in the defect, decreasing or eliminating the pain caused by the lesion.
 

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Dogs with shoulder osteochondrosis can often lead a normal life after surgery, providing that the condition has been caught before severe arthritis has set in.  The prognosis for elbow or stifle osteochondrosis is good but becomes less favorable if arthritis or lesions are already  present.   The prognosis for tarsal or hock osteochondrosis is more guarded because most dogs with this form of the disease already have significant arthritis.  In any joint, once severe arthritis sets in, there is a chance that surgery might not be helpful in alleviating symptoms of pain.

Prevention:

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OCD is generally though to be a hereditary disease, however there is growing evidence that onset of the condition can in some cases be related to diet or injury.  It is unlikely that OCD can be entirely prevented in a dog that is genetically predisposed to the condition.  However, there are steps that an owner can take that are thought to delay onset of the condition.  Some of these things include making sure that your growing puppy is not overfed or given excess supplements of calcium, making sure your puppy is not obese, and discouraging your puppy from excessive running on hard or slippery surfaces, jumping from heights, or any other activities that increase stress to the joints while the puppy is in a period of muscle and bone development. 

 For more information about this condition, or if your dog is experiencing lameness, consult your veterinarian for advice.

Links to sites about this disease:

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http://animalhealthchannel.com/ocd/

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http://www.thepetcenter.com/xra/ocd.html

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http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/saortho/chapter_84/84mast.htm

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http://www.emedicine.com/radio/topic495.htm

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http://www.vetinfo.com/docd.html

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http://www.ivis.org/special_books/ortho/chapter_84/84mast.asp

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http://www.bigleegs.com/ourgsd_l/chd1.htm

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http://www.offa.org/elbowinfo.html

This summary provided by:

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Jessica S

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Wildfire Kennel

 

 

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Copyright © 1998 - 2009. Shiloh Shepherd Dog™ Club of America.
All rights reserved. Revised: January 2008

The information on this website was written by ISSR breeders and other concerned individuals, however we are are NOT veterinarians. This information is being provided as a general overview, from information we were able to find about each disease through our own research. These summaries are not intended to be relied upon as medical or veterinary advice, nor do we consider ourselves experts in the veterinary field or in any of these conditions. While we do our best to provide the most up to date information, new research is constantly being done on these diseases. We recommend that you do further study and talk to your veterinarian on any topics you see here, as we cannot guarantee that the information posted here is the most current information available.  This site was originally designed and maintained by Debbie Knatz.