How Do We Define Osteochondroma?
Osteochondroma as stated is the growth of a benign tumor at the surface of the bone near the growth plate in children and adolescents.1 Growth plates are present only in children and are areas of cartilage tissue, near the ends of long bones, which are in the developing stage. This abnormal growth of the tumor occurs at the bone near the growth plate. It can be said that Osteochondroma is an overgrowth of the growth plate. It is made up of both bone and cartilage. The Osteochondroma can grow larger as the child grows up and stops growing when the child has attained full growth. In majority of the cases of Osteochondroma, there is no particular treatment required apart from regular monitoring for complications.
How Is Osteochondroma Caused?
The exact cause of development of osteochondroma is still not known.2 It has been proved that it does not develop due to any sort of injury to the bone. Both boys and girls can develop Osteochondroma. Osteochondroma is believed to be associated with gene called EXT-1, but how this gene causes growth of the tumor is still a matter of ongoing research. Since the cause of Osteochondroma is unknown, hence still there is no way found to prevent development of Osteochondroma.
What Are The Symptoms Of Osteochondroma?
In majority of cases of Osteochondroma, there are no particular symptoms observed but in some cases certain symptoms may point to Osteochondroma. These symptoms are:
- Presence of a bump near the joints of the knees or shoulder which is not painful
- Pain experienced with activities.
- Alterations in blood flow.
How Is Osteochondroma Diagnosed?
In case there is a suspicion of an Osteochondroma, the treating physician will do the following:
History and Physical Examination: The physician will take a detailed history of the individual and conduct a thorough physical examination to look for areas of tenderness over the bones and even look for abnormalities in range of motion of the joints.
Diagnostic Tests: Apart from a history of physical examination, the physician may also order certain tests like x-rays of the bones and joints to look for presence of any abnormal growth. A CT scan and an MRI may also be ordered to further investigate the joins or bone in question and get a better idea of the abnormality, if present.
Biopsy: This is basically done to rule out a malignant growth.
What Are Treatments For Osteochondroma?
The treatment for Osteochondroma is basically two fold, surgical and nonsurgical.
Nonsurgical Treatment For Osteochondroma: Majority of cases of Osteochondroma require just careful observation and monitoring to look for any complications. This may be done with regular x-ray studies to observe any changes in the size or shape of the tumor.
Surgical Treatment For Osteochondroma: Surgery for treatment of Osteochondroma may be indicated in instances of the following:
- The tumor causes pain
- There is pressure on nerves or vessels.
The surgical procedure will consist of an excision of the tumor altogether. The recuperation period after the procedure is dependent on the size and shape of the tumor. In cases of pain postprocedure, the physician may advise limited activity for a period of time.