Case Reports

Osteochondritis Dissecans Lesion of the Radial Head

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  • Radial Head OCD lesions are uncommon.
  • Typically present in athletes that engage in repetitive trauma to elbow (throwers, gymnasts).
  • MRI is the best modality for making diagnosis.
  • Attempt nonsurgical treatment initially, especially in skeletally immature patients.
  • If nonsurgical fails or there is an unstable lesion, consider operative intervention.




This case shows an atypical presentation of an osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) lesion of the radial head with detachment diagnosed on plain radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). OCD lesions are rather uncommon in the elbow joint; however, when present, these lesions are typically seen in throwing athletes or gymnasts who engage in activities involving repetitive trauma to the elbow. Involvement of the radial head is extremely rare, accounting for <5% of all elbow OCD lesions. Conventional radiographs have low sensitivity for detecting OCD lesions and may frequently miss these lesions in the early stages. MRI, the imaging modality of choice, can detect these lesions at the earliest stage and provide a clear picture of the involved articular cartilage and underlying bone. Treatment options can vary between nonoperative and operative management depending on several factors, including age and activity level of the patient, size and type of lesion, and clinical presentation. This case represents a radial head OCD lesion managed by arthroscopic débridement alone, resulting in a positive outcome.

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