Osteochondroma


Osteochondroma is the most common type of benign (noncancerous) bone tumour. These tumours are made of cartilage and bone, and form near the growing end of the long bones, such as in the arms at the shoulder, and in the legs at the hip and knee. The exact cause behind the tumour growth is unknown, but it is believed to be a growth abnormality forming a bony mass that grows away from the bone. 

Osteochondromas form in children and young adults. Mostly, only a single tumour may develop in your child but multiple tumours can form as well. The reason behind multiple tumours can be a genetic disorder called Multiple Hereditary Exostoses (MHE) or Multiple Osteochondromas. However, they can also occur in multiple numbers without this genetic disorder. These tumours do not spread but can grow in size as the child gets older. When your child has reached their final height, the tumour also stops growing.  ​

Symptoms of Osteochondroma can vary from child to child and they also depend on the size of the tumour. Mostly these tumours are hard masses that do not cause any pain unless nerves, muscles or tendons rub against them. Some other common signs and symptoms of osteochondroma include:

  • Numbness or tingling in a limb if the tumour puts pressure on a nerve

  • Joint and muscle pains, especially when doing an activity

​The symptoms presented by osteochondroma can also be due to a more serious health issue. You can get your child evaluated by a doctor working with the Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital, for expert diagnosis of your child’s symptoms.  ​

​Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

The doctor may begin by asking about your child’s medical history, followed by a physical exam. For an accurate diagnosis, your doctor may ask you to get a few more tests done for your child. These include:

  • X-rays, in which a small amount of radiation is used to generate an image of your child’s bones and organs. Most often, X-rays are enough for diagnosis as it helps determine the location of the growth

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scans, in which a series of detailed images, of the body, are taken by a computer. This is done to produce a more detailed image

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, in which a series of detailed images of the body are made on the computer using a magnet and radio waves. This is done when the tumour is located in an area that is difficult to capture in X-rays 

  • Bone scan, in which a radioactive material (radiotracer) is injected in the body which travels to the bones most affected by the disease. The radiotracer emits little bits of radiation which is detected by the camera as it scans the body​

Osteochondroma is a harmless painless growth that rarely requires any treatment. However, you or your child should have regular consultation sessions with a doctor to monitor the tumour as it can become malignant (cancerous) at times. This usually happens in adulthood and is notable due to increase in size of the tumour and onset of pain in a previously painless growth.

If your child does require treatment, in case the tumour causes pain, fracture, nerve irritation or if it becomes large or bothersome and causes difficulty in moving, it would be a surgical procedure. This involves the complete removal of the tumour by cutting it off the normal bone. The procedure is usually successful depending on the location of the tumour. But it can get complicated if the tumour is placed close to nerve and blood vessels.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.