Treatments for Osteochondroma (Exostosis) in Children

How are osteochondromas in children treated?

Osteochondromas that are not painful or likely to cause a fracture don't require treatment.

Complications that can occur with surgery to remove this kind of tumor (or tumors) factor in to a decision to leave the tumor alone. For example, if an osteochondroma occurs in close proximity to the bone's growth plate, surgical interference in the area could affect how the bone grows.

The child should continue to be seen by a doctor, since a very small number of osteochondromas (1 percent) can develop into cancerous (malignant) tumors. In the rare circumstance that this occurs, it is almost always in adulthood and is usually notable for growth in size of a lump or pain in a previously painless lump.

When surgery is needed

Your child's physician may recommend surgery if your child is experiencing pain, fracture, or nerve irritation, or if the tumor is large or bothersome.

In cases where surgery is necessary, the treatment of choice is complete removal of the tumor. This involves opening the skin over the tumor, locating the osteochondroma, and cutting it off of the normal bone. Depending on the location of the osteochondroma, surgical removal of the lesion is usually successful. However, if the tumor is close to nerves and blood vessels, the operation can be more difficult.

In cases where the genetic disorder, multiple hereditary exostoses (MHE), causes multiple lesions, and in very young children, there is a very small chance (5 percent) that new tumors may form in the same area after they are removed with surgery.