An osteoma is simply a type of a benign tumor, which is usually formed by the abnormal growth of bones and tissues that grow next to or within the bones. They are most commonly found in children. Fortunately, in most cases, they are easily removed, and patients do not run the risk of such tumors spreading cancer to other areas of the body. However, children who are afflicted with this may develop another osteoma at a later time in a different bone of the body.
Easily removed, most of these tumors are found in the thighbone or on the bones in the hand. If an osteoma is found in the spinal column, it can become much more serious. Surgery on the spine carries with it a significant risk of subsequent paralysis or cutting of the spinal cord. When an osteoma presents in the spinal cord, extreme caution is required in surgery.
Removing osteomatas is very important. Left untreated, they can accumulate in mass and then create hard bone structures. This can make normal bodily movement difficult. Osteomatas can also be quite painful, causing the patient to limp. They may also interfere with the overall health of the muscle and with any normal growth patterns.
There are a few different methods used for removing an osteoma. The most common one is curettage. In this process, the tumor is literally scooped out from inside the bone, thus creating a hollow space in the bone. The doctor will fill this space with bone tissue from a matching donor. When this surgical procedure is done on children, the results are usually excellent and normal growth of the bone can resume.
A newer procedure is called percutaneous radiofrequency ablation. By exposing the tumor to radiofrequency waves via a needle, it kills it and prevents additional growth. This tends to be a popular approach for many, as it is not as invasive as other methods and can usually be performed under a sedative as opposed to general anesthesia. However, it is important to note that a large osteoma may not respond to such a procedure.
In the most challenging of cases, the orthopedic surgeon may opt to perform an en bloc resection.