Osteochondritis Dissecans Knee Update, 4 Years Later

Once upon a time, 4 years ago, I had knee surgery on each of my knees. At separate times, mind you, but within a 3 month span. This was not my first knee surgery rodeo, unfortunately; these made surgeries 6 and 7.

Last day on crutches, surgery 1!
Last day on crutches, surgery 1!

I have this rare condition in my knees called Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) which is a fancy way to say that not enough blood gets to the end of my femur bone (medial condyle) so the cartilage gets weak and cracks off. I first learned I had OCD when I was 10 years old and had microfracture surgery in an attempt to mitigate the condition. When I was 15, I had back-to-back surgeries on each knee because a large chunk of cartilage actually cracked off and was catching when I bent my knees. When I was 16, I had surgery to remove that chunk in my left knee because the graft hadn’t held. For a teenager who’s identity was defined by volleyball, these 2 years were rough. But after that? It all was good after that for a number of years! And then, when I was 25, I felt the pain again and went to an orthopedic doctor in Denver to get checked out.

2 MRIs later, diagnosis confirmed what I suspected: that damn OCD was the culprit and it was time to go back under the knife. This time, my doctor recommended a new treatment that was still in study/research phase called DeNovo NT which is basically a cartilage graft from a juvenile donor. In October 2011 and December 2011, my doctor scraped out the bad cartilage and put in the new DeNovo NT graft. Since then, it’s been smooth sailing!

Knee Surgery // lynnepetre.com

I’ve run half marathons. I’ve climbed mountains. I’ve learned to ski. I’ve gone snowshoeing. I’ve backpacked 20 miles in a weekend. I’ve spent 5 days in a canoe. I’ve played volleyball. I’ve done everything I’ve wanted and more. I’ve done everything that caused me pain and more.

Elbert Summit // lynnepetre.com

All of this to say – YAY! But this morning, I’m actually at a nearby hospital getting an MRI on my left knee. I’m hoping it’s nothing but in December, I felt a weird pull in my left knee when I was visiting Denver and, in the weeks that followed, my knee was catching in a familiar and disheartening way.

So far, the impact to running/exercise and life has been fairly minimal – in the initial weeks, I refrained from the rower at OrangeTheory because the deep bend of rowing brought an increased chance of feeling it catch. In recent weeks, I can still tell something isn’t quite right but it’s mostly normal. I sometimes feel like my knee is out of place or will have to bend it a couple of times to keep it from feeling like catching when I get in the car but overall, I’m able to do what I want (but am notably avoiding lateral movements for the time being). I’ve continued to run and, while it’s sometimes uncomfortable in the initial mile or so, I usually get in the groove after a warm up.

So, we’ll see. I truly have no idea what to expect; I have various A/B/C ideas of what I hope the outcome this time will be but rather than get myself worked up about something that I can’t control, I’m going to keep on keepin’ on until I hear from my doctor next week.

5 thoughts on “Osteochondritis Dissecans Knee Update, 4 Years Later

  1. I had an X-Ray done and I found I too have Osteochondritis Desecans, however it is only in my left knee. I have an MRI scheduled in about two weeks, and this will determine if I need a surgery. I am going through all of this just as basketball season is getting started, and I really pray I won’t have surgery!!

  2. Hello, which doctor did you see for the graft surgery? My son has been dealing with OCD for two years and I am looking for a new physician and perhaps a new approach…
    Thanks for your help!!

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