Osteochondroma: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Osteochondroma is the most common bone tumor. It is a abnormal growth of a bone. Microscopically it is composed of normal bone tissue. Most common location of this tumor is

  • around the knee joint and
  • at the upper end of the humerus bone

It is usually found in two forms

  • a pedunculated form which is shaped like a club, being narrow close to the parent bone and broad away from it
  • or a sessile form that is spread out over the parent bone like a carpet

It is usually discovered in the second decade of life. The tumor is three times more common in males as compared to females. These tumors continue to grow till skeletal growth continues and there after stop growing.

Usually these tumors are found incidentally during x ray examination for some other condition. Apart from this the usual presenting feature is the presence of a painless mass in a limb.
Occasionally they may present as pain. Pain can occur if the tumor compresses some structure in its vicinity such as a nerve, tendon or muscle. Pain is also seen if a fracture occurs in the tumor following injury.

Diagnosis is confirmed by x ray examination. If pain is the presenting feature and the diagnosis is not clear then a MRI should be undertaken.

Treatment of a osteochomdroma that is causing no symptoms should be just wait and watch. No active treatment is required in such tumors.

Treatment of symptomatic tumors is by surgical excision of the tumor.

x ray of a osteochondroma in femur

This is a x ray of a osteochondroma (red arrow) in the femur bone. It was removed surgically. Below is a photo of the specimen. It is about 2 by 2.5 cm in size and is covered by cartilage.

surgical specimen of a osteochondroma

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the chances of tumor recurrence?

The chances of tumor recurrence are up to 2%

How can the chances of recurrence be minimized?

Chances of recurrence can be minimized by

  • complete removal of the tumor and ensuring that even a small piece is not left behind
  • having the surgery after skeletal maturity when the tumor is not growing any more

I hope the information provided was helpful. If you have any query you can ask me at the contact me page.

This page was updated on 24th August 2011

Other bone tumors

Fibrous Dysplasia

Osteoid Osteoma


Bone Cyst

Aneurysmal Bone Cyst

Go back from Osteochondroma to Bone Tumor page


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