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Magnetic resonance imaging after arthroscopic microfracture of capitellar osteochondritis dissecans.

BACKGROUND: Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) of the capitellum affects young athletes involved in elbow load-bearing activities. Unstable lesions are best managed surgically, although debate remains regarding the optimal method. Arthroscopic treatment allows rapid recovery, but the effect on the articular surface is undetermined.

HYPOTHESIS: The clinical outcome after arthroscopic microfracture of stage III/IV capitellum OCD would be successful in terms of return to sport and restoration of function, and there would be some evidence of articular restoration or repair.

STUDY DESIGN: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: We reviewed records of 10 consecutive adolescent patients (age ≤18 years) with stage III or IV OCD lesions of the capitellum managed with arthroscopic microfracture. The mean age at the time of surgery was 13.9 years (range, 10.8-18.5 years); 7 patients were skeletally immature and 3 were skeletally mature. Pre- and postoperative functional assessment included active range of motion, Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS), and Timmerman/Andrews elbow score. All patients underwent plain radiographic and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation at a minimum of 12 months (mean, 27 months; range, 12-49 months) and clinical evaluation at a minimum of 24 months (mean, 42 months; range, 27-54 months) after surgery.

RESULTS: The mean range of motion improved in both flexion (135.8°→140.7°, P = .112) and extension (20.4°→-2.2°, P = .005). The mean MEPS (70.5→97, P = .007) and Timmerman/Andrews elbow scores (116.4→193.0, P = .008) improved significantly. magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation demonstrated an improvement in overall joint congruence and the formation of a reparative articular surface in 8 of 10 (80%) patients. No reoperations or major complications were encountered. Six of 8 patients involved in competitive athletics returned to the same level of participation at an average of 5.1 months.

CONCLUSION: Arthroscopic OCD fragment excision and capitellar microfracture demonstrates good to excellent functional results in short-term follow-up. Follow-up MRI suggests potential for a reparative fibrocartilaginous articular surface. Longer term follow-up is necessary to determine durability of the technique.

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