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BACKGROUND: Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is an important cause of knee pain in physically active adolescents, but its aetiology remains controversial. Modern data on its epidemiology are lacking. The aim of this study was to analyse the hospitalised incidence, age and sex distribution, trends over time and geographical variation in OCD in the whole of England. METHODS: Hospital episode statistics (HES) data were analysed for OCD over the period 2002/3 to 2010/11 for England. HES datasets were record-linked so that anyone with multiple admissions for OCD was counted once only. RESULTS: The annual incidence rate for hospitalised OCD was 1.58 (95% CI 1.51-1.64) cases per 100,000 population. The peak age at diagnosis was 15-19 years for both sexes, and boys were affected more commonly than girls in the ratio 2:1. The hospitalised incidence of OCD varied significantly across England by government office region, from 1.05 (0.91-1.20) in London to 1.89 (1.70-2.09) in the North West Region. CONCLUSIONS: These data on the epidemiological features and trends over time in OCD provide new information about its basic epidemiological distribution. Its annual hospitalised incidence is about 1.6 cases per 100,000 population under 25 years, but varies significantly across England. These results have implications for planning rheumatology and orthopaedic services for both children and adults.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





497 - 500


Epidemiology, Osteochondritis dissecans, Osteochondropathy, Adolescent, Age Distribution, Child, Child, Preschool, Databases, Factual, England, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Incidence, Male, Osteochondritis Dissecans, Sex Distribution, Young Adult