An osteochondral defect occurs when a chunk of joint cartilage is lost, leaving a crater that extends into the underlying bone.

Page updated September 2023 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)

osteochondral defect
osteochondritis dissecans of femoral condyle


What causes an osteochondral defect?

Deep craters involving both the cartilage and the bone may be a result of impact or a condition such as osteochondritis dissecans where blood supply fails to an area of bone, and the bone and cartilage die.

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What happens to an OCD without surgical intervention?

The defect is likely to cause pain and altered mobility, but the real issue is that without closing the defect it is likely to extend and eventually lead to arthritis.

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Options for cartilage repair of an osteochondral defect

There are a number of possible procedures for attempting to fill the defect back to a congruent cartilage surface. The big number suggests that none are in fact perfect! Possible interventions include:

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Forum discussions

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Peer-reviewed papers

  • Surgical Management of Osteochondral Defects of the Knee: An Educational Review

    Citation: Howell M, Liao Q, Gee CW. Surgical Management of Osteochondral Defects of the Knee: An Educational Review. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2021 Feb;14(1):60-66. doi: 10.1007/s12178-020-09685-1. Epub 2021 Feb 15. PMID: 33587261; PMCID: PMC7930143.

    Quote: ..."the re-operation, re-intervention and adverse event rates were similar for all procedures. However, microfracture demonstrated the worst patient-reported outcomes, with particular emphasis placed on the poor long-term results of this operation".

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chondral defect

Dr Sheila Strover (Editor)
BSc (Hons), MB BCh, MBA

See biography...


Relevant material -


Dr Kevin R Stone2010 - Course - Biologic knee replacement - by Dr Kevin R Stone (Knee Surgeon)


Dr Karen Hambly2008 - Course - Articular cartilage repair - course - by Dr Karen Hambly (Physiotherapist)



eBook on alternatives to joint replacement

eBook - Knee arthritis interventions when you are too young for a total knee replacement

Written by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor). Free to download.

Easy-to-read eBook discussing the various options for arthritis in the younger patient.