KidsMD Health Topics

Non-Ossifying Fibroma

  • Overview

    A non-ossifying fibroma is a benign (non-cancerous), non-aggressive tumor that consists mainly of fibrous tissue. It usually occurs in the thighbone or shinbone, but may also occur in the upper extremities.

    • A non-ossifying fibroma usually produces no symptoms.
    • It usually resolves by itself.
    • It never spreads.
    • Its cause is unknown.
    • It often discovered by chance on an x-ray.
    • Surgery is only necessary of it causes a fracture or weakens the bone.

    How Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center approaches non-ossifying fibroma

    We understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with non-ossifying fibroma. Is it dangerous? Will it affect my child long-term? What do we do next? We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions in the following pages. If you have further questions during your hospital stay, our experts can explain the condition to you fully.

    Our Bone and Soft Tissue Program’s multidisciplinary approach to care ensures that your child’s case will be given thoughtful discussion by an integrated care from a team that includes the following specialists:

    • pediatric oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists
    • pediatric experts from every medical subspecialty, such as orthopedics, ophthalmology, physical therapy and radiology, among others
    • highly skilled and experienced pediatric oncology nurses
    • Child Life specialists, psychologists, social workers and resource specialists who provide supportive care before, during and after treatment

    In addition, our cancer center offers the following services:

    • Expert diagnosis by pathologists using advanced molecular diagnostic testing to identify your child’s type of tumor. Knowing the molecular composition of a tumor helps predict which treatments are more likely to work.
    • Access to unique Phase I clinical trials, from our own investigators, and from the Children’s Oncology Group.
    • Expert surgical care from experienced pediatric surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons, several of whom developed approaches used at centers across the country.
    • Support services to address all of your child and family’s needs.
    • A weekly survivorship clinic, which set the national standard for childhood cancer survivorship care. This weekly clinic offers ongoing care to manage late effects caused by your child’s cancer or the treatment she’s received.
  • In-Depth

    What is non-ossifying fibroma?
    A non-ossifying fibroma is a benign (non-cancerous), non-aggressive tumor that consists mainly of fibrous tissue. It’s almost always found in the thighbone or shinbone, but may also occur in the upper extremities. These usually resolve by themselves and never spread.

    What causes non-ossifying fibroma?
    While the cause is unknown, it’s believed to be a defect connected to:

    • vascular disturbance
    • hemorrhage inside the bone

    Is non-ossifying fibroma common?
    A non-ossifying fibroma is one of the more common benign tumors found in children and adolescents.

    What are the symptoms of non-ossifying fibroma?

    Typically a non-ossifying fibroma produces no symptoms, although those that are particularly large can cause chronic bone pain and/or a fracture. They’re often discovered by chance on x-rays.

  • Tests

    How does a doctor know that it’s a non-ossifying fibroma

    Diagnostic procedures for non-ossifying fibroma are used to determine the exact type of tumor your child has and whether the tumor has spread. These may include a: 

    • physical exam, including neurologic function tests to measure your child’s reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness
    • x-rays to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film
    • computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) to capture a detailed view of the body
  • We specialize in innovative, family-centered care. From your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting all of your family's physical and psychosocial needs.

    Traditional treatments for non-ossifying fibroma

    These tumors, as a rule, resolve on their own, usually when the bones stop growing (called skeletal maturity). This tumor is only a problem if it causes a fracture while active. It rarely comes back.

    Since this tumor is neither malignant, nor aggressive, the primary reason to treat it is to avoid a fracture, especially in athletic children. If a fracture exists or the tumor has weakened the bone, your child's doctor may want to operate. For fractures, the operation is put off until the fracture heals. Sometimes surgically placed metal rods and pins to fix a broken bone may be necessary.

    The two types of procedures to treat a non-ossifying fibroma include:

    Curettage and bone grafting

    The most common form of treatment for an aneurysmal bone cyst. During this operation, the cyst is scraped out of the bone with a special instrument called a curette that has a scoop, loop or ring at its tip. The remaining cavity is then packed with donor bone tissue (allograft), bone chips taken from another bone (autograft), or other materials.

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