Common names or abbreviations:
Description or definition:
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.
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”
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
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.
pain, and swelling of the affected joint(s).
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 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
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.
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.
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.
more information about this condition, or if your dog is experiencing
lameness, consult your veterinarian for advice.
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