Osteoid osteoma

Osteoid osteoma is a type of cancer that starts in the long bones of the body like the tibia (shinbone) and femur (thighbone). Further, this is a non-cancerous (benign) tumor of bones.


This means that cancer doesn’t spread to other body parts. However, it may cause discomfort and pain at the site of the tumor. It affects young adults and children mostly, though it can occur in people of all ages.

The tumors do not grow and are very small. The size is less than 1.5 cm. However, they lead to the formation of a reactive bone around the bone. Besides, they make an osteoid bone which is a type of abnormal bone material.


Along with the tumor cells, this osteoid bone results in the formation of the nidus of a tumor. This is a clear spot in the tumor that your doctor may observe on X-rays.




Researchers yet do not know what exactly causes osteoid osteoma. Furthermore, there is no clear link that indicates a relationship between this cancer and other risk factors. These risk factors can be genetic as well as environmental.


Cancer can develop in the long bones of the body. However, it may also affect other areas like fingers, spine, and hands.


Although the tumor can develop at any age, however, it occurs mostly in the young. The personage of 4 to 25 is most likely to get this cancer.


Moreover, cancer does not spread to other parts. However, males have 3 times more probability than females to develop this cancer.




Symptoms may vary from person to person. Moreover, the extent of symptoms depends upon the severity of the disease and the area affected.


The most common symptom is the presence of dull, aching pain. Although the pain is of moderate intensity, it can become worse at night. Moreover, the pain doesn’t relate to activity usually.

In several cases, some patients may suffer the pain for years, without any diagnosis. One gets to know about cancer when he/she sees a doctor.


The other symptom that you may detect is swelling. Thus, depending on the location where tumor is, there may also be swelling.




Your doctor will thoroughly perform a physical checkup on your body. He/she will ask for physical signs and symptoms. Moreover, you should also be ready to share your medical history.


X-rays.  They give a clear picture of the dense structures of the body. Thus, the test is quite helpful in the diagnosis of osteoid osteoma.


With the help of an X-ray, your doctor will be able to see a thickening of bone on the edges.


It surrounds an area of lower density which is a small central core. This represents a distinctive characteristic of a tumor.


Computerized tomography (CT) scan. This test will help your doctor to find the lesion. It gives a cross-sectional image of the bones, thereby detecting tumors. The scan will show the center of the tumor (nidus).


Biopsy. To confirm the osteoid osteoma, a biopsy is a necessary step. In this procedure, your doctor will take a sample of your tissue and examine it under a microscope.


However, before taking a sample, your doctor will give you a local anesthetic. This will numb the tumor area.


Furthermore, your doctor may perform the biopsy as a minute operation. However, the imaging tests may suggest an osteoid osteoma. At that time, your surgeon may not order you a biopsy.


Other tests. In addition to the above tests, your doctor may ask for some additional tests. This is to avoid some possible bone problems like a malignant tumor or an ln infection.


In some cases, your doctor may order certain blood tests. These tests help rule out infection if any.



Nonsurgical Treatment. Over several years, most of the osteoid osteomas will vanish on their own. However, your doctor may give you certain drugs to provide relief from the pain.


These drugs include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin.


Surgical Treatment. Most of the patients do not tolerate taking these drugs for years. Moreover, some may not want to wait for years for this tumor to resolve on its own.

Under these circumstances, you or your family may consider surgery to tackle the problem. Various methods of surgery include;

Curettage. To scrap the tumor entirely out of the bone, your doctor may recommend this treatment. In this method, the central core or nidus of the osteoid osteoma may be removed.


Also, to ensure the entire removal of the osteoid osteoma, your surgeon will take great care while removal. Otherwise, the tumor may grow back.


In this traditional open procedure, to reach the bone, your surgeon will make an incision in the soft tissues or the skin. This type of surgery is highly successful in several cases.

But, it does come with certain risks like bleeding, infection, the risk from general anesthesia, and possible tissue damage.

Radiofrequency ablation. Nowadays, there is a trend to use newer treatment options that are minimally invasive. For instance, a CT-guided radiofrequency ablation is one of them.

In this method, your surgeon will destroy the tumor by heating it with a current of high frequency. An orthopedic surgeon or an interventional radiologist may perform this procedure.


Your doctor will give you general anesthesia or a sedative to block pain before the procedure. Your doctor will use a CT scan to identify the site of the tumor.  Then, he/she will insert a radiofrequency probe into your tumor.


The probe effectively kills the tumor cells by heating them to about 90 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, a minimal amount of damage results in surrounding tissues.


In most cases, one radiofrequency probe treatment may be enough to treat the tumor. Thus, you may go home the same day with a mild pain reliever. Moreover, your surgeon will perform this procedure on an outpatient basis.


Recovery period.

Depending on the location and procedure of the tumor, the recovery time will vary from person to person. Some patients may take a little longer to return to normal activities while some less.


Mostly, patients can return to school or work with little restrictions in a few days. Furthermore, within 24 hours, symptoms may resolve in patients after radiofrequency ablation.

To guide your recovery properly, your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow.


Coping and support 


When you get diagnosed with osteoid osteoma, it could be frightening for you. The condition will be no different for your family.

However, you may learn to cope with the uncertainty and distress related to cancer with time.  Thus, you need to follow these instructions until then;


Call on for medical support:

Various things are going to help you. For instance, the knowledge and understanding of a medical social worker, or any other mental health professional is necessary. They will help you in understanding your cancer.

Furthermore, if your child or other family member suffers from cancer, you need to ask health care professionals for advice.

They will provide you with options for medical health support. This will also provide you with emotional and social support.

In addition to this, you can check various online services that will provide you support to combat cancer.


  • Gain more knowledge about osteoid osteoma to make decisionsabout control and care: 

Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to osteoid osteoma. Little knowledge is dangerous. Therefore, more confidence in understanding and making decisions about treatment options will be there with you. So you should always learn more about the disease.

Ask the health care team for guidance if your child has cancer. Therefore, get more and more information for appropriately caring for the patient.


Be close to your friends and family:

A close and strong relationship with your family and friends is necessary. It will help you deal with osteoid osteoma.

You need practical support, moral support from your friends and relatives. Thus, someone should be there for you to look after the family. Emotional support from them is going to matter most. Thus, a healthy and happy person will ultimately efficiently fight the disease.


Prepare for your appointment


You are likely to start making an appointment with your primary care doctor if some signs and symptoms worry you. Ask for a referral to an experienced specialist if your doctor suspects osteoid osteoma.


A team of specialists typically can treat. For instance;

Orthopedic osteoid osteoma surgeons or orthopedic oncologists who have specialization in operating bone cancers.

Doctors who have a specialization in treating cancers with systemic medications or chemotherapy.

Pathologists diagnose the specific type of cancer by analyzing a tissue.

Rehabilitation specialists who after surgery help in the recovery of a tumor.


What you should expect from your doctor:


You will face several questions from your doctor. Thus, you should be ready to answer these. So, give more time to your doctor to address them. Your doctor may ask;


What signs and symptoms concern you more?


Have your symptoms been occasional or continuous?


When did you start to notice the symptoms?

The severity of your symptoms?


Is there anything that improves your symptoms?


Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?


Do you have any family or personal history of cancer?