Chondroblastoma is very uncommon, accounting for only 1-2% of all bone tumors.
It affects mostly children and young adults with most patients being in the second decade of life, or less than 20 years of age.
Chondroblastoma shows a predilection towards the male sex, with a ratio of male to female patients of 2:1.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom is mild to severe pain that is gradually progressive in the affected region and may be initially attributed to a minor injury or sports-related injury.
Pain may be present for several weeks, months, or years.
Physical findings include localized tenderness and a decreased range of motion in the involved bone and nearby joint, muscle atrophy, a palpable mass, soft tissue swelling, and joint effusion in the affected area.
Less commonly, pathological fractures can be found, especially in cases involving the foot.
In a publication by Turcotte et al.
it was found that the average duration of symptoms for patients with chondroblastoma was about 20 months, ranging from 5 weeks to 16 years.
Currently, the genetic or environmental factors that predispose an individual for chondroblastoma are not well known or understood.
Chondroblastoma affects males more often than females at a ratio of 2:1 in most clinical reports.
Furthermore, it is most often observed in young patients that are skeletally immature, with most cases diagnosed in the second decade of life.
Approximately 92% of patients presenting with chondroblastoma are younger than 30 years.
There is no indication of a racial predilection for chondroblastoma.
The etiology of chondroblastoma is uncertain, as there is no specific characteristic abnormality or chromosomal breaking point observed, despite cytogenetic abnormalities being highly specific for some tumors.
Romeo et al has noted that chondroblastoma arising in long bones mainly affects the epiphyses, while in other locations it is close to ossification centers.
Additionally, rare prevalence of chondroblastoma in intra-membranous ossification suggests a close relationship with growth plate cartilage.
In chondroblastoma, growth signaling molecules may be present due to the pre-pubertal signaling network as well as cartilage growth.
Sex hormones are thought to be linked to this process because of the spatial relationship of chondroblastoma with the growth plate and its typical occurrence before growth plate fusion.
Both Indian Hedgehog/Parathyroid Hormone-related Protein (IHh/PtHrP) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling pathways, important for development of the epiphyseal growth plate, are active in chondroblastoma leading to greater proliferation among the cells in the proliferating/pre-hypertrophic zone (cellular-rich area) versus the hypertrophic/calcifying zone (matrix-rich area).
The highly heterogeneous nature of the tumor makes classification particularly difficult especially considering the origins of chondroblastoma.
The work of Aigner et al suggests that chondroblastoma should be reclassified as a bone-forming neoplasm versus a cartilaginous neoplasm due to the presence of osteoid matrix, type I collagen, and absence of true cartilage matrix (collagen II).
The results of Romeo and colleagues favor the view of Edel et al of chondroblastoma being cartilaginous in nature but recognize that any definitive determinations regarding the origin of this neoplasm are not possible because of the plasticity of mesenchymal cells when set into different microenvironments and static approaches used in literature.
Romeo et al have observed chondroblastoma neoplasms to be composed of mesenchymal cells that have completed normal chondrogenesis along with the production of osteoid and collagen I that could be the result of transdifferentiation of chondrocytes towards osteoblasts.
A variety of imaging studies can be used to diagnose chondroblastoma, with radiographs being the most common.
Laboratory studies are not considered useful.
A sclerotic margin can be seen in some cases.
For long bone chondroblastomas the tumor is typically contained to the epiphysis or apophysis but may extend through the epiphyseal plate.
However, true metaphyseal chondroblastomas are rare and are typically the result of an extension from a neighboring epiphyseal legion.
Most lesions are less than 4 cm.
A mottled appearance on the radiograph is not atypical and indicates areas of calcification which is commonly associated with skeletally immature patients.
In cases involving older patients or flat bones, typical radiographic presentation is not as common and may mimic aggressive processes.
Other imaging techniques involve computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and bone scans, which may be helpful in determining the anatomical boundaries, associated edema, or biological activity of the chondroblastoma, respectively.
MRI studies may show extensive oedema around the lesion and show variable T2 signal intensity.
Chondroid differentiation is a common feature of chondroblastoma.
A "chicken-wire" appearance is characteristic of chondroblastoma cells and is the result of dystrophic calcification that may surround individual cells.
Although, calcification may not be present and is not a prerequisite for diagnosis.
There is no correlation between mitotic activity and location of the lesion.
Furthermore, the presence of atypical cells is rare and is not associated with malignant chondroblastoma.
There are no discernible histological differences observed when comparing the aggressive form of chondroblastoma that can cause recurrence or metastases with its less aggressive, benign, counterpart.
Chondromyxoid fibromas can share characteristics with chondroblastomas with regards to histologic and radiographic findings.
However they more commonly originate from the metaphysis, lack calcification and have a different histologic organization pattern.
To prevent recurrence or complications it is important to excise the entire tumor following strict oncologic criteria.
However, in skeletally immature patients intraoperative fluoroscopy may be helpful to avoid destruction of the epiphyseal plate.
In patients who are near the end of skeletal growth, complete curettage of the growth plate is an option.
Other options include substituting polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) or fat implantation in place of the bone graft.
The work of Ramappa et al suggests that packing with PMMA may be a more optimal choice because the heat of polymerization of the cement is thought to kill any remaining lesion.
Radiotherapy has been implemented in chondroblastoma cases that are at increased risk of being more aggressive and are suspected of malignant transformation.
Furthermore, radiofrequency ablation has been used, but is typically most successful for small chondroblastoma lesions (approximately 1.5 cm).
Treatment with radiofrequency ablation is highly dependent on size and location due to the increased risk of larger, weight-bearing lesions being at an increased risk for articular collapse and recurrence.
Overall, the success and method of treatment is highly dependent upon the location and size of the chondroblastoma.
Although not specific to one mode of management, lesion size, patient sex, or follow-up, the recurrence rate for chondroblastoma is relatively high, and has been shown in select studies to be dependent upon the anatomical location, method of treatment, and biological aggressiveness of the initial lesion.
The rate of recurrence is highly variable, ranging between 5% and 40%, as study results are generally inconclusive.
However, local recurrence for long bone lesions is around 10%, with chondroblastoma in flat bones having higher recurrence and more complications.
Recurrences are more common in cases involving an open epiphyseal plate where they can be attributed to inadequate curettage to avoid damage.
Chondroblastoma may recur in the soft tissue surrounding the initial lesion, especially in the case of incomplete curettage.
Recurrences have been shown to occur between 5 months and 7 years after initial treatment and are generally treated with repeat curettage and excision of affected soft-tissue.
No histological differences have been seen between recurrent and non-recurrent chondroblastomas.
Rarely, more aggressive chondroblastomas can metastasize.
The prevalence of metastatic chondroblastoma, however, is quite low and is believed to be less than 1%.
There is no relationship established between metastasis and previous surgery, non-surgical treatment, anatomical location, or patient age.
Survival of patients with metastatic lesions is better when the metastases are surgically resectable, as chemotherapy has been shown to have little to no benefit.
Prognosis is bleak for patients with malignant chondroblastomas that are resistant to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
However, patients with resectable metastases have survived for several years following diagnosis.
While recurrence is the most common complication of chondroblastoma other issues include post-surgery infection, degenerative joint disease, pathological fractures, failure of bone grafts, pre-mature epiphyseal closure, functional impairment, and malignant transformation.
Complications are less common in patients presenting with chondroblastoma in accessible areas.
Overall, patients with more classical chondroblastoma (appearing in long bones, typical presentation) have better prognoses than patients with atypical chondroblastoma (flat bones, skull, etc.).
Chondroblastoma was first described in 1927 as a cartilage-containing giant cell tumor by Kolodny but later characterized by Codman in 1931.
Codman believed chondroblastoma to be an "epiphyseal chondromatous giant cell tumor" in the proximal humerus.
This view was changed later by a comprehensive review completed by Jaffe and Lichtenstein in 1942 of similar tumors in other locations than the proximal humerus.
They re-defined the tumor as a benign chondroblastoma of the bone that is separate from giant cell tumors.
However, chondroblastoma of the proximal humerus is still sometimes referred to as Codman’s Tumor.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chondroblastoma.