Idiopathic multicentric osteolysis: upper extremity manifestations and surgical considerations during childhood

J Hand Surg Am. 2012 Aug;37(8):1677-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 Jul 2.


Purpose: Idiopathic multicentric osteolysis (IMO) is an uncommon disease presenting during childhood with resorption of the carpus and tarsus with nephropathy. The few case reports and literature reviews do not focus on the upper extremity disease manifestations or surgical treatment options. We review our experience with the upper extremity in IMO.

Methods: We evaluated 8 affected children, specifically assessing early disease manifestations, misdiagnoses, radiographic progression, and surgical treatments rendered.

Results: Wrist pain and swelling are typically the first manifestations of IMO. Characteristic upper extremity findings, once the disease has progressed, include metacarpophalangeal joint hyperextension, wrist ulnar deviation and flexion, and loss of elbow extension. Radiographically, there is osteolysis of the carpus and proximal metacarpals with resorption of the elbow joint in some patients. Surgical treatments, including soft tissue release with pinning or joint arthrodesis, may offer pain relief and improve alignment, but outcomes are inconsistent.

Conclusions: Children with IMO are almost always misdiagnosed initially, and the correct diagnosis may be delayed by years. The hand surgeon is ideally suited to provide an accurate diagnosis of IMO, because wrist pain and swelling and thumb interphalangeal joint contracture are common early manifestations.

Type of study/level of evidence: Prognostic IV.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Juvenile / complications
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Osteolysis, Essential / complications
  • Osteolysis, Essential / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Upper Extremity / surgery*