Predictive Role of Symptom Duration Before the Initial Clinical Presentation of Adolescents With Capitellar Osteochondritis Dissecans on Preoperative and Postoperative Measures: A Systematic Review

Orthop J Sports Med. 2019 Feb 13;7(2):2325967118825059. doi: 10.1177/2325967118825059. eCollection 2019 Feb.


Background: Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) of the capitellum is an increasingly recognized disease affecting young athletes. Because lesion progression is common, early identification is potentially beneficial for an athlete's treatment and recovery. However, there is currently no analysis available that evaluates the impact of symptom duration on preoperative and postoperative outcomes.

Purpose/hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review of surgically treated OCD lesions to examine the effect of symptom duration before the initial presentation on preoperative and postoperative outcomes. We hypothesized that a longer symptom duration would correlate with more severe preoperative signs and symptoms and poorer postoperative outcomes.

Study design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects were queried for studies evaluating symptom duration before the clinical presentation of capitellar OCD and surgical outcomes. A systematic review was conducted according to PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines.

Results: A total of 23 studies reporting outcomes in 258 patients (mean patient age, 14.4 ± 1.5 years) were analyzed. Locking as a chief complaint predominated in a greater proportion of patients who presented with a longer history of OCD symptoms (P = .007). A longer symptom duration also correlated with a longer time to return to sport (P = .008) and older age (P < .001). Range of motion limitations as both a chief complaint and a physical examination finding correlated with a longer symptom duration (P = .014 and .001, respectively). Symptom duration did not show a relationship with most postoperative outcomes, including the return-to-sport rate (P = .172), which ranged from 70.7% to 91.1% depending on the surgical procedure performed. No significant difference was observed between symptom duration and the surgical procedure performed (P = .376).

Conclusion: Advanced OCD lesions were observed in patients with a longer symptom duration. However, treatment specifics rather than symptom duration correlated best with return to sport for patients with advanced OCD lesions requiring surgery. The earlier detection of capitellar OCD may be valuable in reducing the severity of lesions, the time to return to sport, and potential need for surgery in young athletes.

Keywords: elbow; osteochondritis dissecans; symptom duration.

Publication types

  • Review