An Update on the Pathogenesis of Osteochondrosis

K. Olstad, S. Ekman, C. S. Carlson

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39 Scopus citations


Osteochondrosis is defined as a focal disturbance in endochondral ossification. The cartilage superficial to an osteochondrosis lesion can fracture, giving rise to fragments in joints known as osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD). In pigs and horses, it has been confirmed that the disturbance in ossification is the result of failure of the blood supply to epiphyseal growth cartilage and associated ischemic chondronecrosis. The earliest lesion following vascular failure is an area of ischemic chondronecrosis at an intermediate depth of the growth cartilage (osteochondrosis latens) that is detectable ex vivo, indirectly using contrast-enhanced micro- and conventional computed tomography (CT) or directly using adiabatic T1ρ magnetic resonance imaging. More chronic lesions of ischemic chondronecrosis within the ossification front (osteochondrosis manifesta) are detectable by the same techniques and have also been followed longitudinally in pigs using plain CT. The results confirm that lesions sometimes undergo spontaneous resolution, and in combination, CT and histology observations indicate that this occurs by filling of radiolucent defects with bone from separate centers of endochondral ossification that form superficial to lesions and by phagocytosis and intramembranous ossification of granulation tissue that forms deep to lesions. Research is currently aimed at discovering the cause of the vascular failure in osteochondrosis, and studies of spontaneous lesions suggest that failure is associated with the process of incorporating blood vessels into the advancing ossification front during growth. Experimental studies also show that bacteremia can lead to vascular occlusion. Future challenges are to differentiate between causes of vascular failure and to discover the nature of the heritable predisposition for osteochondrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-802
Number of pages18
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 24 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • animals
  • cause
  • computed tomography
  • humans
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • osteochondritis dissecans
  • osteochondrosis
  • pathogenesis


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