Treatment of Unicameral Bone Cysts of the Calcaneus: A Systematic Review

J Foot Ankle Surg. 2015 Jul-Aug;54(4):652-6. doi: 10.1053/j.jfas.2014.10.014. Epub 2015 Jan 28.


The calcaneus is the most common tarsal affected by unicameral bone cysts (UBCs); however, the treatment of calcaneal UBCs remains controversial. The purpose of the present systematic review was to evaluate the treatment modalities for calcaneal UBCs. A systematic review was performed using clinical studies of calcaneal UBCs with a minimum of 1 year of follow-up and level I to IV evidence. Ten studies with 171 patients (181 cysts) were selected. Heel pain and radiographic cyst consolidation were the primary outcomes. A series of Z tests were used to compare the outcomes in the nonoperative and operative groups, cannulated screw and bone augmentation groups, and autografting and allografting groups. All patients treated with open curettage and bone augmentation had significant improvements in heel pain (p < .001). Only 1.1% ± 1.0% of the cysts treated conservatively had healed on radiographs compared with 93.0% ± 13.0% of the cysts after surgery (p < .001). A greater percentage of patients treated with bone augmentation had preoperative heel pain and resolution of that pain than did patients treated with cannulated screws (p < .001). Autografting had a significantly greater percentage of radiographic cyst consolidation than did allografting (97.4% ± 11.1% versus 85.1% ± 15.8%, p < .001, Z = 3.5). Objective outcomes data on calcaneal UBCs are relatively sparse. The results of the present review suggest that open curettage with autograft bone augmentation is the most effective procedure. We would encourage future comparative clinical studies to elucidate differences in UBC treatment modalities.

Keywords: bone graft; cannulated screw; curettage; radiograph; simple bone cyst; tarsal.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Allografts
  • Autografts
  • Bone Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone Cysts / therapy*
  • Bone Screws
  • Bone Transplantation
  • Calcaneus / diagnostic imaging
  • Calcaneus / surgery*
  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Calcium Sulfate
  • Curettage
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / surgery
  • Pain Management*
  • Radiography


  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Glucocorticoids
  • calcium phosphate
  • Calcium Sulfate