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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Kohler disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Kohler's Disease
  • Kohler's Disease of the Tarsal Navicular
  • Kohler's Osteochondrosis of the Tarsal Navicular
  • Navicular Osteochondrosis
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What causes Kohler disease?

While the exact cause of Kohler disease is unknown, it is thought to be triggered by excessive strain on the tarsal navicular bone and its blood vessels before ossification (the hardening of bones).[1]

Bone ossification in girls tends to begin at age 18-24 months, and in boys at age 24 to 30 months. As the child grows, their foot is required to support more weight. If the navicular bone ossifies slower than the surrounding bones, the surrounding bones may compress it and its blood vessels resulting in osteonecrosis and ischemia (a loss of blood supply).  In response to this loss of blood supply the child’s body forces more blood to the tarsal navicular bone causing quick revascularization (formation of new blood vessels) and formation of new bone.[1]
Last updated: 7/20/2012

  1. Vargas B. Köhler Disease. eMedicine. 2009; Accessed 4/1/2009.