OCD results from avascular necrosis of subchondral bone, leading to articular erosion.
Although the humeral condyle (shoulder) is primarily predisposed, it has also been reported to affect the sacrum, distal femur and tarsocrural joint. Hindlimb involvement may progress to hip dysplasia.
A predisposition is observed commonly in large-breed dogs but small-breed dogs may also be affected.
The disease is often exacerbated clinically with high exercise activity. An underlying osteochondrosis appears to play a role in the pathogenesis of this disease. Chronic inflammation associated with this disease may predispose to osteosarcoma, although this has been rarely reported.
The onset of disease occurs between 5 months and 10 months of age in a large majority of cases, with males affected three times more frequently than females. In approximately 50% of the cases, animals are affected bilaterally (as determined radiographically), although clinical signs of pain and lameness may occur only unilaterally.
OCD may also develop with a calcium-rich diet. Growing giant-breed dogs fed high-calcium diets (>3% of dry matter as calcium) experience greater development of osteochondrosis than control dogs. Even when dietary phosphorus is adjusted to maintain a physiologic calcium:phosphorus ratio, osteochondrosis can still occur.
Affected young dogs often present with mild intermittent lameness, with lameness score directly related to osteophyte size.
While a presumptive diagnosis may be made upon assessment of breed and clinical examination (palpation of the shoulder is generally nonrewarding), radiography is necessary for definitive diagnosis.
Radiographic findings include irregular radiolucent subchondral defects, usually involving the caudal aspect of the humeral head as well as subchondral sclerosis, calcified linear cartilage flaps, joint exophytes and osteoarthritis. Lesions are usually localized to the central portion of the caudal aspect of the humeral head, at the approximate junction of the caudal and middle thirds of the articular surface.
Arthroscopy usually reveals the joint surface having a distinct pattern of centripetally oriented split-lines centrally.
Treatment for young dogs is best achieved with corrective surgery. Surgery is indicated in dogs with persistent lameness that are unresponsive to rest and NSAIDS.
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