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  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:



(Osteocartilaginous Exostosis)


An osteochondroma is a harmless bone tumor. It starts in the cartilage that cushions bones. It can appear on the bones of the arms and legs. Sometimes it happens on the pelvic bones and shoulder blades.

An osteochondroma usually stops growing when a person reaches full height.


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The cause of osteochondroma is unknown. One type may be passed down through genes in families.

Risk Factors

Osteochondroma that is not inherited is more common in children and teens. The inherited type is more common in newborns, males, and people who are White.

Having a family history of hereditary multiple osteochondromas raises the risk of it.


Symptoms of osteochondroma may be:

  • A hard, bony lump that may:
    • Be painless, but the tissue around it may become irritated and painful
    • Get bigger
  • A long bone that breaks with less than the usual amount of force
  • Pressure on nearby structures, including nerves


The doctor will ask about the child's symptoms and health history. Symptoms and a physical exam may point to osteochondroma. They may also have:

Diagnosis is confirmed by imaging tests, such as:

The child's doctor may do a biopsy . A tissue sample is taken and checked to see if the lump is cancerous.


The goals of osteochondoma treatment are:

  • Monitoring—If the lump is not causing pain or other problems, it may be left alone. The person and doctor will keep track of it for any changes or new problems.
  • Surgery—The lump is removed if it causes pain or other complications. It is also removed if there is a chance of cancer. If the bone is weak, it can be rebuilt. Rebuilding the bone is done over a long period of time.


There are no guidelines to prevent osteochondroma.





  • Murphey M, Choi J, Krandsdorf MJ, Flemming DJ, Gannon FH. Imaging of osteochondroma: variants and complications with radiologic-pathologic correlation. Radiographics. 2000;20(5):1407-1434.
  • Osteochondroma. Bone Tumor website. Available at: http://www.bonetumor.org/tumors-cartilage/osteochondroma.
  • Osteochondroma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/osteochondroma.
  • Osteochondroma. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/osteochondroma.
  • Osteochondroma. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/osteochondroma.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.