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  • Chondroma

    Chondromas are benign neoplasms of the cartilage that predominantly occur in and around the small bones of the hands and feet.

    They also occur, although not as frequently, in the rib bones, humerus (upper arm), and femur (thigh bone). These growths are similar in appearance to an illness known as periosteal osteosarcoma and, thus, necessitate meticulous tissue examination for a proper diagnosis.

    Chondroma Symptoms & Features

    Most chondromas are asymptomatic and typically stop growing when the bones have reached skeletal maturity. However, these growths can cause surrounding bone structures to fracture more easily and, in some cases, affect the patient with various pains and discomforts.

    Depending on the location of the growth, a chondroma may present itself as a mass that the patient can easily feel during a personal examination.

    In rare cases, when a chondroma continues to grow past skeletal maturity, it threatens to develop into a more serious malignant disorder known as chondrosarcoma. As a result, physicians will always pay very close attention to any chondroma that continues to grow after the bones have stopped doing so.

    Fortunately, chondromas rarely become malignant and almost never do so in the more frequently affected bones of the hands and feet (phalanges).

    Chondroma Diagnosis

    Diagnosing a chondroma is always dependent on the use of various imaging techniques. The most common, easily accessible, and inexpensive of these techniques is the x-ray, which will typically yield adequate results if the chondroma is located in the hands and/or feet of the patient.

    When the growth is located centrally in the body, such as in the pelvis or the shoulder girdle, computed tomography (CT scan) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are often employed. CT scan and MRI techniques represent the most advanced and comprehensive methods available to physicians for the detection and analysis of tumor location, growth, and/or metastasis.

    Furthermore, in order to insure that a chondroma is properly diagnosed, a physician may recommend the surgical resection of a sample of affected tissue to be examined under a microscope. This procedure is known as biopsy.

    Chondroma Treatment

    Most chondromas are asympotmatic and pose no serious threat to the patient. In many of these cases, treating the growth involves observation alone.

    The purpose of this observation is to ensure that the cells of the growths do not continue their anomalous proliferation after skeletal maturity and/or develop into the more serious chondrosarcoma. Tumors that are causing pain and/or continuing to grow after the bones have stopped doing so are often surgically resected.

    An orthopedic surgeon who will utilize a technique known as curettage to remove a chondroma. Curettage is a surgery in which a tumor is scraped out of the bone, leaving a cavity that is filled with bone material from a donor or from other structures in the patient’s body.

    Chondroma Prognosis

    Prognosis is dependent on tumor location, tumor size, and the overall health of the patient. Typically, the tumors are asymptomatic and present no complications after skeletal maturity. Functional survival is possible for nearly all patients with the disease unless it develops into malignant chondrosarcoma, which it rarely does.