Osteochondral Defects of the Talus

Ankle injuries are one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions. Most ankle sprains occur when the foot is pointed downwards, and the ankle “rolls over” the foot, causing the talus (ankle bone) to push into the tibia. A crack in the cartilage on the surface of the bone can occur. This is called an osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).

Although this can occur in other joints, when it occurs on the ankle bone, it is called an osteochondral lesion of the talus (OLT). Months or even years later joint fluid can enter the crack and expand creating a painful hole in the bone. This can cause chronic pain, swelling, and a sense of giving way.

Treating the condition

Patients with minimal symptoms can treat the pain by modifying their activity and taking anti-inflammatory medicine.

For those who have more severe symptoms, surgery is an option. One kind of surgical treatment is microfracture surgery, where the surgeon creates small holes in the cartilage defect to help stimulate cartilage growth. This is done using arthroscopic techniques.

If the defect is too large, then an osteochondral graft (OATS-osteoarticular transfer system) is necessary. The surgeon uses either a core of bone and cartilage harvested arthroscopically from the patient’s own knee, or from a cadaver knee. This is highly technical surgery, and an orthopedic specialist is required for the best outcomes.

What to do if you’re experiencing pain

An orthopedic specialist should be seen if your ankle continues to cause pain three months after a sprain. These common injuries can cause many complications that require specialized diagnosis and treatment.

An MRI or CT scan may be necessary to make the diagnosis of a cartilage defect because plain X-rays usually miss the injury. If an MRI or CT show a large bone cyst or cartilage defect, then treatment is usually necessary.

ProOrtho Medical Specialties

Latest ProOrtho News

  • Food containing vitamin C for healthy bones

    An Orange (or Two) A Day Keeps Osteoporosis at Bay

    Scurvy was the scourge of sailors for thousands of years, specifically between the 16th and 18th centuries. Scurvy is a dietary deficiency caused by a lack of vitamin C. The body doesn’t naturally make vitamin C, so it must come from citrus fruits (or juices, yum!), leafy vegetables (slightly less fun to drink in juice …

  • Happy senior couple in raincoats during rainy day in nature.

    Weatherproof Ways to Stay Healthy and Reduce Pain

    It’s happening. We’ve been ignoring it for months and just hoping for the best. But as we all know, hope is not a plan, especially when it comes to staying active when the weather outside is more than frightful. That’s right. The seasons are CHANGING. Fall has arrived, and winter is hot on its heels. …

  • Seattle Met Top Docs 2022

    Seattle Met’s Top Doctors 2022—ProOrtho Makes the Grade!

    [Not pictured above: Dr Stone, Dr Antoine, Dr Wen and Dr Nelson] What does “the best” really mean? We humans make a dizzying amount of decisions every day, and the desire for “the best” outcome governs how we make each choice. Thus, if we must commute, we use Waze or Google Maps to determine the …

Locations

Business Office

Surgery Center

MRI

Stay Connected

A Service of Proliance Surgeons


We’re a part of Proliance Surgeons, a team of independent, physician led care centers dedicated to providing exceptional outcomes, personally delivered.