Predictors of Failure of Return to Play in Youth Baseball Players After Capitellar Osteochondritis Dissecans: Focus on Elbow Valgus Laxity and Radiocapitellar Congruity

Am J Sports Med. 2021 Feb;49(2):353-358. doi: 10.1177/0363546520972981. Epub 2020 Dec 15.


Background: Osteochondritis dissecans of the humeral capitellum (capitellar OCD) is a common injury among youth baseball players, but there are only a few studies that report on return to play with nonoperative treatment.

Purpose: To evaluate the medial elbow joint laxity under valgus stress and radiocapitellar congruity in patients with capitellar OCD and evaluate their relationship to predicting rehabilitation outcome.

Study design: Case-control study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: Capitellar OCD was diagnosed in 81 patients included in our study. All patients were elementary school students who initially received rehabilitation treatment after injury. The rates of return to the same level of play or higher (RTSP) were calculated and correlated with the joint gap difference between the dominant and nondominant elbows using ultrasound and radiocapitellar congruity (proximal, lateral, and anterior radial translation length), which was assessed using plain radiographs of the dominant elbow.

Results: The overall RTSP rates of patients with nonoperative treatment was 70.4% (57/81). The multivariate logistic regression analysis identified OCD classification (stage I, odds ratio [OR], 4.076; 95% CI, 1.171-14.190) and 1 continuous variable (proximal radial translation length on anteroposterior view, OR, 0.661; 95% CI, 0.479-0.911) as the significant predictive factors for outcome after nonoperative treatment.

Conclusion: The early stage of capitellar OCD in youth baseball players can be successfully treated nonoperatively in the majority of cases. The presence of proximal radial translation can predict the outcome of nonoperative management of capitellar OCD.

Keywords: nonoperative treatment; osteochondritis dissecans of the humeral capitellum; radiocapitellar congruity; return to play; youth baseball players.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Baseball*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Elbow Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Elbow Joint / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnostic imaging
  • Joint Instability / rehabilitation*
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans / rehabilitation*
  • Return to Sport*