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What is Enchondroma?

Enchondroma is a type of tumor (usually benign) that frequently grows in the small bones of the hand. An enchondroma typically affects the cartilage lining the inside of bones. It also has the possibility of affecting other bones, such as the femur, humerus, or tibia.

Most often found in young people, enchondromas are painless and normally demand no treatment other than monitoring over time. In some cases the tumor-weakened bone may fracture, requiring surgical intervention.

Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Enchondroma

An enchondroma is usually solitary but may present as one of several tumors clustered together or elsewhere. They are the most commonly found boney hand tumor, affecting most commonly people between the ages of 10 and 30. It affects men and women equally.

General health conditions that involve enchondromas are Ollier Disease (the growth of multiple tumors in different sites of the body) and Maffucci Syndrome ( the addition of benign tumors composed of blood vessels). Both pose important health concerns.
Many patients who have an enchondroma do not experience any symptoms. Often, enchondroma may be mistaken for another condition. However, the most commonly experienced symptoms of enchondromas are:

  • Hand pain or swelling
  • Enlargement of the affected finger phalanx or metacarpal, especially with minimal trauma
  • Slow bone growth and swelling in the affected area, more rapid with a fracture

Getting a Diagnosis for Enchondroma

The diagnosis of an enchondroma tumor is typically done through history and physical evaluation and diagnostic imaging. However, they are often found during a routine physical examination or if the tumor fractures a bone in the hand due to its growth.

Tests may include X-rays for images of boney structures to identify fractures, an MRI to visualize abnormalities within the bone and soft tissue.

Treatment Options for Enchondroma

Splinting and surgical removal of the enchondroma may be necessary. Enlargement of the enchondroma or new pain warrants a physician’s evaluation. Treatment for your specific enchondroma will be decided by factors such as your age and activities, the extent of the growth, and its possibility for spontaneous fracture.

In some cases, the enchondroma may not need surgical intervention and only requires periodic observation and supervision.

Conservative Treatments

If your enchondroma does not weaken the bone significantly and appears benign, as almost all of them are, it may be left alone and monitored with your hand surgeon at regular intervals.

A specialized hand surgeon will know when your tumor can be left alone and when surgical intervention is required, making it important to schedule a consultation with a professional to try to ensure a proper treatment plan.

Surgical Treatments

Sometimes, surgical excision is necessary if the bone is being weakened or fractured by an enchondroma.

Bone grafting may be necessary if the bone becomes damaged. In those cases, healthy bone will be transplanted from the wrist or from the bone bank to the afflicted region to improve bone density and strength. There is a low rate of recurrence after enchondroma excision.

Preventing Enchondroma

Preventative measures for enchondroma are not documented because the origin of the condition is unknown. Some enchondromas develop without incident while others may develop due to genetic predisposition or congenital factors. If you suspect that you have an enchondroma or if you are experiencing hand, seek timely medical evaluation for a prompt diagnosis.

Prognosis for Enchondroma

Because enchondromas are generally benign, most patients can expect to live with them without incident until they weaken the bone around them. However, in the case that surgery is needed to remove it, patients should expect a brief immobilization period depending on the presence of fracture and the location of the tumor.

Physical therapy may be recommended, depending on the location of the enchondroma, proximity to joints, pathological fracture, and duration of immobilization.

If You Believe You Have Enchondroma, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute.

Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People who have hand pain ought to be evaluated to try and prevent further damage and mobility issues.

If you have an enchrondroma, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled hand surgeon with bone tumor expertise. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment and obtain an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

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