Treatment for OCD Lesions in Young HorsesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · May 14, 2012
Osteochondritis dissecans, or OCD, is a condition characterized by defects in cartilage formation and maturation in joint surfaces. Horses with OCD develop small flaps of cartilage that partially or completely separate from the underlying layers of tissue. Some of the bits of cartilage find their way to resting places within the joint where they don’t cause problems, but other horses develop inflammation and become lame due to the condition.
One treatment is to trim off and remove the loose flaps, smoothing the joint surface to prevent further irritation. A newer technique is to secure the flaps by reattaching them to the underlying bone. Tiny degradable pins are used in this arthroscopic procedure, which has been in use for over 15 years.
In a Colorado State University study of 44 OCD-affected joints in 27 horses, pinning was a successful treatment in 32 joints. In eight of the other joints, some debridement (scraping and removal of damaged tissue) was necessary before pins were used, and only four joints were not able to be treated by pinning.
The technique had an excellent success rate for the horses in this study. Of the 20 horses that were followed for a long-term performance analysis, 19 reached their intended performance level, and none of these horses had any evidence of lameness related to OCD.