Enchondromas are noncancerous (benign) growths of cartilage that develop on the bones. These growths most commonly occur in the limb bones, especially in the hands and feet; however, they may also occur on the skull, ribs and vertebrae. Enchondromas usually form as a single lesion.
When multiple enchondromas form the condition is referred to as Enchondromatosis. While Enchondromatosis is a rare condition, it can lead to severe deformity of the affected areas as a result of the expanding, elongated, ‘popcorn’ shape tumor.
Enchondromatosis is not hereditary and typically becomes apparent by early childhood. For a majority of cases, the masses do not yield any pain.
After puberty, the tumors can become dormant in growth, however, those with Enchondromatosis do face the potential risk of asymmetrical limb-lengths, pain in the affected area and fractures.
Although rare, Enchondromatosis can transform into chondrosarcoma, a cancer composed of cartilage-producing cells.
Types of Enchondromatosis
There are several subtypes of Enchondromatosis, including:
- Maffucci syndrome
Enchondromatosis Diagnosis & Treatment
Enchondromatosis is most commonly diagnosed through radiographic procedures, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
To mitigate cosmetic deformity that may be caused by the benign growths, surgery is the preferred treatment method. Depending on the location and gravity of the enchondromatosis, several operations may be necessary.