Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an osteochondral fracture of the femur?

Osteochondral fracture means that the cartilage covering the end of the femur (thigh bone) or in any joint is torn. The fracture creates bone or cartilage fragments that can range in size and in depth. Depending on the depth of the injury, this may be referred to as a partial-thickness or full-thickness tear. This injury occurs most often in young athletes along weight-bearing surfaces such as the end of the femur. Other areas affected include under the patella (knee cap) or along the talus bone in the ankle. Less often, this type of fracture can affect the metatarsal bone of the foot. Femoral osteochondral fractures are the result of a shearing force when the foot is planted on the ground and the knee twists over the foot. The lesion involves both the articular (joint) cartilage and the bone underneath. There may be one large fragment displaced or several tiny fractures and defects. Signs and symptoms of this type of injury can include pain, swelling, and bruising. Some patients report crepitus (grating feeling with movement), weakness, or instability of the joint (knee gives way when standing or walking).

Stewart J. Walsh, MD, et al. Large Osteochondral Fractures of the Lateral Chondyle in the Adolescent: Outcome of Bioabsorbable Pin Fixation. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. July 2008. Vol. 90-A. No. 7. Pp. 1473-1478.

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