Chondromas | Diagnosis & Treatment

How are chondromas diagnosed?

In addition to a taking a complete medical history and performing a full physical examination, your child's doctor may use some combination of the following tests to diagnose either type of chondroma:

  • X-rays - A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) -This test is particularly useful in identifying tumors in areas that are difficult to image on a plain X-ray.
  • Computerized Tomography scan (also called CT or CAT scan) - A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
  • Bone scan - A nuclear imaging method to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joints, to detect bone diseases and tumors and to determine the cause of bone pain or inflammation.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) - A measurement of size, number, and maturity of different blood cells in a blood sample.

What's the treatment for chondromas?

Treatment for children with chondromas without symptoms may involve observation alone. Your child's doctor will watch for any signs of bone destruction or malignant transformation. Doctors will probably want to remove your child's chondromas that are causing symptoms, such as pain or fracture.

Removing the chondroma

The operation of choice, performed by an orthopaedic surgeon, usually involves curettage.

Curettage describes a procedure in which a tumor is surgically scraped out of the bone, leaving a cavity that is then packed with either donor bone tissue (allograft), bone chips taken from another bone (autograft), or other materials depending on the preference of the surgeon.

While the operation is performed, the surgeon will take a biopsy, a tissue sample of the tumor, so it can be examined under a microscope.

If the tumor is causing destruction or if doctors believe it will degenerate to a malignant condition known as chondrosarcoma, the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue may be surgically removed.

What is the long-term outlook for a patient with a chondroma?

The long-term outlook for a patient with enchondroma or periosteal chondroma varies from patient to patient depending on:

  • the extent of the disease
  • the size and location of the tumor
  • the presence of absence of malignant degeneration
  • the age and overall health of your child
  • your child's tolerance for specific medication, procedures, or therapies

Generally, enchondroma and periosteal chondroma that are not causing any symptoms will resolve on their own as they stop growing at skeletal maturity. Due to the possibility of a transformation into a malignant condition, however, continual follow-up care is essential if your child is diagnosed with a chondroma.