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Results of arthroscopic debridement for osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow


Objective: To determine the clinical outcome of arthroscopic debridement for osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow.

Methods: A prospective cohort study was started in 2000; between 2000 and 2005, 15 patients (six male, nine female, mean age 28 years (range 16–49)) were treated for osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow with arthroscopic debridement. The lesion was graded during surgery using the classification of Baumgarten. The dominant side was operated on in seven of 15 patients, and all patients were involved in a sport in which the elbow is used extensively. Elbow function was assessed before and after surgery using the modified Andrews elbow scoring system (MAESS); pain was scored on a visual analogue scale (0, no pain; 10, severe pain). Evaluation was performed an average of 45 (range 18–59) months after surgery. Statistical analysis (Student’s t test) was carried out using SPSS statistical software. p<0.005 was considered significant.

Results: There were no complications. The range of motion did not improve significantly. The mean MAESS score improved from 65.5 (poor) before surgery to 90.8 (excellent) after (p<0.001). The mean level of pain at rest decreased from 3 to 1, and the level of pain after provocation decreased from 7 to 2 (p<0.001). All patients were able to return to work 3 months after surgery, and 80% were able to resume their pre-injury level of sport activity.

Conclusion: The clinical outcome after arthroscopic debridement for osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow shows good results, with pain relief during activities of daily living and sport. The function of the elbow, as reflected by the MAESS score, improved from poor to excellent. All patients in this series will be reviewed after 5 years to determine long-term results.

  • MAESS, modified Andrews elbow scoring system
  • VAS, visual analogue scale
  • arthroscopic debridement
  • elbow
  • osteochondritis dissecans

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