Osteochondromas after radiation for pediatric malignancies: a role for expanded counseling for skeletal side effects

J Pediatr Orthop. Apr-May 2014;34(3):331-5. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000081.


Background: A relationship has been reported between total body irradiation (TBI) and later development of osteochondromas in children who receive radiation therapy as conditioning before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The goal of this study was to better characterize osteochondromas occurring in these children.

Methods: We identified all children (0 to 18 y) who received an allogeneic HSCT and TBI from 2000 to 2012 from a blood and marrow transplant (BMT) database. Thereafter, we identified those who developed osteochondromas through a chart review. In addition, we searched for diagnosis and operative codes from 1996 to 2012 in our pediatric orthopaedic clinical records, isolating osteochondroma patients with a history of radiation exposure.

Results: Four patients who underwent allogeneic HSCT and were later diagnosed with osteochondromas were identified from the BMT database (N=233 children); all 4 were among a group of 72 patients who received TBI. Three patients were identified from orthopaedic records. The cohort included 5 boys and 2 girls with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (N=5) or neuroblastoma (N=2), diagnosed at a median age of 2.0 years. Therapy for all patients included chemotherapy, radiation therapy (TBI, N=5; abdominal, N=2), and HSCT. A diagnosis of osteochondroma was made at a median age of 11.7 years (range, 5 to 16 y), on average 8.6 years after radiation therapy. Diagnosis was incidental in 2 patients and secondary to symptoms (pain or genu valgum) in 5. Locations of osteochondromas were the proximal tibia (N=3), distal tibia, distal femur, distal ulna, and the distal phalanx (N=1 each). Three patients underwent surgical resection.

Conclusions: Children may be more likely to develop osteochondromas after early exposure to radiation therapy, which may cause pain and require surgical resection. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of a radiation-induced osteochondroma causing lower extremity malalignment. Patients typically present to the pediatric orthopaedist's attention when symptomatic, but there may be an expanded role for counseling for potential for long-term skeletal effects in this group.

Level of evidence: Level IV, case series.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Neoplasms / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Counseling* / methods
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Osteochondroma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteochondroma / etiology
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Whole-Body Irradiation / adverse effects*