Osteochondrosis dissecans  (OCD)

By: Brigitte Rhinehart

Osteochondrosis is a generalized disturbance of the normal development of cartilage. 
The articular cartilage becomes abnormally thickened and small fissures and cracks 

may develop. The dissecans refers to the stage when cartilage becomes dissected
resulting in cartilage flaps. These flaps may remain attached or become loose
and fall into the joint  space.

In Swissys, the vast majority of OCD cases occur in the shoulder joints and occasionally
in other joints such as elbows and hocks.
The onset of the  disease may begin as early as at 4 months and as late as at 14 months.
The most  typical age of appearance,
however, is between 6 and 8 months. Except for very  mild cases without flap development, 
the clinical signs are almost invariably  persistent, and less frequently, 
intermittent lameness. The dog may be stiff  after resting and the lameness is 
usually aggravated by exercise. OCD is  diagnosed by radiography. However, in 
the early stages, radiographic findings  might be inconclusive. In such 
situations, contrast radiography (arthrography)  may be necessary for definite 
diagnosis. Treatment depends on the severity of  the case. OCD lesion in the 
shoulder joint. Lesion evident on the joint surface  of the humeral head 
Mild cases without cartilage flaps may be  treated and heal spontaneously with 

several weeks of rest and treatment with the drug Adequan and
supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin, MSM and Vitamin C.
Many cases, however, will require surgery which consists of the  removal of flaps and loose fragments and the scraping and smoothening of the  defective surface.
Surgical repair of OCD of the shoulder usually renders excellent results.
Surgical results involving other sites are not as predictable. 

Because mild forms of OCD can occur without presenting clinical signs,

a prudent approach is to radiograph shoulders prior to breeding so that
affected Swissys can be eliminated from a breeding program. 
In fact, Swiss health data has convincingly shown that by excluding affected dogs and bitches, incidences of OCD can be significantly reduced.