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Enchondroma | Bone Disorders

Posted by: Vicki Joseph | May 11th, 2012

What is Enchondroma?

Enchondroma is a type of tumor that affects cartilage in the body’s extremities and most often affects teenagers. The tumor is usually benign and can sometimes remain throughout the life of the patient without adverse effects. However, it is possible that an enchondroma can become malignant, and this transition is notoriously difficult to diagnose – even for experts using state-of-the-art equipment.

Causes and Symptoms

Enchondroma is not caused by environmental factors, and most physicians believe the cause of the disease lies in the genes of the patients. The benign tumors can remain undetected for many years, as the symptoms do not include any pain. This is why the disease is most often diagnosed after an x-ray is taken for other purposes. An x-ray is usually sufficient in order to correctly identify the disease. However, sometimes additional imaging techniques, such as computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR) and bone scans can be useful in determining the best course of action.


It is important to diagnose the disease correctly and differentiate between the benign and malignant variety. The malignant version of enchondroma (chondrosarcoma) is often associated with a degree of pain. It is particularly important to draw a distinction between pain that is experienced at rest or during movement. Pain that is present without movement is more serious, as it implies a later stage of chondrosarcoma.

If left untreated enchondroma can cause distortions in the bone structure of the hands and feet, as well as a propensity for fracture and injury. The best type of treatment is debatable, and can vary greatly among physicians. Sometimes, small and benign tumors do not need to be surgically removed, as they are unlikely to cause deformation or further complications. However, when the tumor is sufficiently aggressive to cause frequent fractures, they are usually excised in order to prevent further injury. The general consensus amongst bone surgeons is that biopsies cause more problems than they solve in the diagnosis of enchondroma. This is because it is notoriously difficult to differentiate between benign and malignant tumors from a biopsy. Furthermore, the removal of a sample bone diseases via biopsy can drag cancerous tissue across healthy tissue, causing contamination.

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Test Your Knowledge

How Many Bones in the Human Body?

An adult has a total of 206 bones in their skeleton

How many Bones in a Child's Body?

A newborn baby has 270 bones in the skeletal system. Most of their skeleton is made up of cartilage which forms bone as it hardens over time. The bones in a child's skeleton fuse together as they grow, reducing the number, up until about 25 years old.

What is The Strongest Bone in the Human Body?

The femur or thigh bone is the strongest bone in the body. It is situated between the pelvis and the knee. It is also the longest bone in the body and is fully one quarter of your bodies' height.

What is the Weakest Bone in The Body?

The weakest bones in your body are the tiny bones inside your ear that enable you to hear. On the other hand; the most commonly fractured bone is the clavicle.

What is the Hardest Bone in the Body?

The hardest bone in the body is the petrous portion of the temporal bone. The temporal bones are found at the sides and base of the skull and the petrous portion is specifically the part at the base of the skull that contains the organs for hearing.

Where are the Smallest bones in Your Body Located?

The smallest bone in the body is called the stapes. It is a stirrup shaped bone found inside the ear drum that transmits vibrations enabling us to hear.

How many Bones are in the Leg?

A human leg contains 30 bones. There are 26 bones that make up the foot, and the four major bones of the leg, which are the thigh bone (femur), the shin bone (tibia), the calf bone (fibula) and the knee cap (patella)