Chondroblastoma

What is chondroblastoma?

A chondroblastoma is a rare type of noncancerous bone tumor that begins in cartilage. This is the tough, rubbery connective tissue from which most bones develop. It plays an important role in the growth process. There are many different types of cartilage in the body. Chondroblastoma most often affects the ends of the long bones, near the growth plate, in the arms at the shoulder, and in the legs at the hip and knee. It is also called Codman’s tumor.

Chondroblastoma can affect people of all ages. But, it’s most common in children and young adults. It’s also more common in males than females. 

What causes chondroblastoma?

The exact cause of chondroblastoma is not known. The tumors are believed to start from immature cartilage-making cells called chondroblasts.

What are the symptoms of chondroblastoma?

Symptoms of chondroblastoma may vary depending on the location of the tumor. The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the knee, hip, and shoulder joint that may be slight or moderate and may be felt for months or years
  • Withered or shrunken appearance of the muscle near the affected bone
  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint swelling
  • A limp if the tumor is in the leg

The symptoms may look like other medical conditions or problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is chondroblastoma diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and give you a physical exam. You may also have tests such as:

  • X-rays.This is a test that uses a small amount of radiation to make images of tissues, bones, and organs on film.
  • MRI.This is a test that uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed images of tissues in the body. This test can also rule out any problems of the spinal cord and nerves.
  • CT scan. This is a test that uses a series of X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the tissues in the body.
  • Biopsy. A small sample of tissue is taken and test. This is usually needed to confirm diagnosis.

How is chondroblastoma treated?

The goal for treatment of chondroblastoma is to remove the tumor and prevent damage to the end of the affected bone. Treatment may include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor
  • Bone grafting, a surgery to transplant healthy bone from another part of the body to repair damaged bone
  • Reconstruction or replacement of an affected joint 
  • Physical therapy to restore strength and function after surgery

Non-surgical treatment options may be used in some cases. This is due to the high risk of major complications from surgery. These other options include:

  • Cryotherapy. This is extreme cold is used to destroy the tumor.
  • Radiofrequency ablation. This is a high frequency electrical current is used to heat and destroy the tumor.

The tumor may recur. For this reason, follow-up with your healthcare provider is essential.

Key points about chondroblastoma

  • Chondroblastoma is a rare type of noncancerous bone tumor that starts from cartilage.
  • It most often affects the ends of the long bones, near the growth plate, in the arms at the shoulder, and in the legs at the hip and knee.
  • It is more common in children and young adults affecting males more than females.
  • The exact cause of chondroblastoma is not known.
  • Symptoms may vary depending on the location of the tumor.
  • The goal for treatment is to remove the tumor and prevent damage to the end of the affected bone.
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