Testing & Diagnosis for Osteochondroma (Exostosis) in Children

Tests

How are osteochondromas in children diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and a full physical examination, the procedures for diagnosing osteochondroma in children may include:

X-ray:

In almost all cases, an osteochondroma can be diagnosed using an X-ray. 

An X-ray uses a small amount of radiation to produce pictures of a child’s bones and organs. This helps to determine where the growth is located. Osteochondromas show up on the X-ray as a hard mass near the growth plate on a normal bone, which makes most easy to detect.

The following diagnostic tests are usually not required, except if the tumor is found in an unusual location, such as the pelvis:

   •   Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radio
       frequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. This test
       is particularly useful in identifying tumors in areas that are difficult to image on a plain X-ray.  It also helps
      confirm the size of the tumor and distinguish it from other types of bone tumors.

   •   Computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan): a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a
       combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce images, both horizontally and vertically, of the
       body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
       CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

   •   Bone scans: a nuclear imaging method to detect bone diseases, tumors, and inflammation. In rare cases, this
       is used to check for other osteochondromas in children with multiple hereditary exostoses (MHE).