Curettage and graft alleviates athletic-limiting pain in benign lytic bone lesions

Vincent M. Moretti, Rachel L. Slotcavage, Eileen A. Crawford, Richard D. Lackman, Christian M. Ogilvie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Solitary bone cysts (SBC), nonossifying fibromas (NOF), and fibrous dysplasia (FD) create benign intramedullary lytic bone lesions. They are typically asymptomatic and treated conservatively. We present a series of lesions that caused performance-limiting pain in young athletes, a symptom phenomenon and possible treatment indication that has been poorly described in the literature. Questions/purposes: We asked whether intralesional curettage and defect grafting of these lesions would alleviate pain in young athletes and permit their return to unrestricted athletic activities. Patients and Methods: We retrospectively identified 29 patients (30 lesions) who underwent curettage and grafting for SBC (12 patients), NOF (nine), or FD (eight). All patients had pain predominantly with athletic involvement. The mean age of the patients was 18 years (range, 12-31 years). Tumor locations were the femur (eight lesions), humerus (seven), tibia (six), fibula (five), pubic ramus (two), ulna (one), and calcaneus (one). Signs/symptoms were pain alone (24 patients) and pain plus fracture (five). Surgery involved curettage and packing with allograft cancellous chips, bone substitute, or demineralized bone matrix. Two patients required internal fixation. The mean followup was 21 months (range, 2-114 months). Results: Twenty-four patients had no pain and five had occasional mild pain at last followup. All patients resumed full activity at a mean of 3.3 months (range, 1.5-8.3 months), excluding two who required repeat surgery. Conclusions: Our observations suggest curettage and packing with bone graft/substitute can provide pain relief and allow full athletic recovery for young athletes with benign lytic bone lesions. Level of Evidence: Level IV, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-288
Number of pages6
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


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