Osteoid Osteoma

What is an osteoid osteoma?

An osteoid osteoma is a benign (non-cancerous), small tumor that usually grows in the long bones of a person’s lower extremities. The thighbone is the most common location, although it can occur in the bones of the hand, and it sometimes occurs in the lower part of the spine.

  • The tumor may cause pain, but it doesn’t spread.
  • In young children, it may deform the bone or stimulate the bone to grow larger or longer.
  • It usually appears in teenagers and young adults.
  • Its cause is unknown.
  • The most common treatment uses radio frequencies to heat and kill cancerous cells.
  • Treatments are usually successful, though the tumors can come back.

What causes osteoid osteoma?

An osteoid osteoma occurs when certain cells divide uncontrollably, forming a small mass of bone and other tissue. This growing tumor replaces healthy bone tissue with abnormal, hard bone tissue. No one knows exactly why this occurs.

Is osteoid osteoma common?

It usually emerges sometime during the teenage years or early adulthood. The condition seems to occur more often in boys than girls.

What are the symptoms of osteoid osteoma?

While symptoms may vary from child to child, the most common include:

  • dull or sharp pain that worsens at night
  • pain that is usually relieved by aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
  • limping
  • painful scoliosis and muscle spasticity (when the tumor is located in the spine)
  • growth disturbance (when the tumor is involved with a bone's growth plate)
  • muscle wasting
  • bowing deformity
  • nerve symptoms like sciatica (when the tumor is located in the spine)

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches osteoid osteoma

The Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program provides comprehensive medical and surgical care for children and adolescents with bone and soft tissue tumors.

We understand that you may have a lot of questions if your child is diagnosed with an osteoid osteoma. 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 answer them fully.

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

  • pediatric experts from relevant medical sub-specialties, such as orthopedics and radiology
  • highly skilled and experienced pediatric nurses
  • physical therapists
  • child life specialists, psychologists, social workers, and resource specialists who provide supportive care before, during, and after treatment

In addition, our center offers:

  • 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
  • expert surgical care from experienced pediatric surgeons and orthopedic surgeons, several of whom developed approaches used at centers across the country 
  • support services to address all of your child and family’s needs