Repairing OCD Lesions in Horses: New Method Described

Irish scientists recently tested a new OCD repair method that’s based on the idea of replacing the damaged tissue with healthy tissue.

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repairing ocd lesions in horses
Veterinarians implanted the three-layer tissue in each OCD lesion under general anesthesia. | Photo: The Horse Staff

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) creates a “dead” region of cartilage and growing bone in joints. Conservative treatment often consists of simply resting the affected joint, but sometimes surgeons resort to repairing OCD lesions in horses by removing the damaged areas, hoping fresh cartilage and bone will get stimulated to replace it. That technique has limited success and works best in smaller lesions. For larger lesions, well, athletic careers get put aside as owners wait for nature to do its best—which isn’t always as good as they’d like.

That’s why Irish scientists recently tested a new OCD repair method that’s based on the idea of actually replacing the damaged tissue with healthy tissue. Specifically, they’re replacing OCD lesions with bioengineered tissue, made up of three layers similar to the tissue layers they’re replacing.

“I think what makes this technique successful is that we’re looking at what’s in the joint itself and mimicking those materials,” said Fergal J. O’Brien, PhD, FAS, CEng, FIEI, FEAMBES, MRIA, professor of bioengineering and regenerative medicine at RCSI Anatomy in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, in Dublin

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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