Osteochondromas of the Distal Aspect of the Tibia or Fibula: Natural History and Treatment

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon Dr. Kingsley R. Chin Medical Paper

Scientific Paper

Chin KR1Kharrazi FDMiller BSMankin HJGebhardt MC.

Interested medical professionals can read through the full paper, also published in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, here.


There is little information on the natural history or treatment of osteochondromas arising from the distal aspect of either the tibia or the fibula. It is believed that there is a risk of deformation of the ankle if these exostoses are left untreated or if the physis or neurovascular structures are injured during operative intervention.


We reviewed the records of twenty-three patients who had been treated for osteochondroma of the distal aspect of the tibia or fibula between 1980 and 1996. Four of the patients had hereditary multiple cartilaginous exostoses. There were seventeen male and six female patients, and the average age at the time of presentation was sixteen years (range, eight to forty-eight years).


Preoperative radiographs showed evidence of plastic deformation of the fibula in eleven patients who had a large osteochondroma. Four patients elected not to have an operation. The tumor was excised in nineteen patients. Postoperatively, all nineteen patients had a Musculoskeletal Tumor Society score of 100 percent for function of the lower extremity with pain-free symmetrical and unrestricted motion of the ankle at the latest follow-up examination. Partial remodeling of the tibia and fibula gradually diminished the asymmetry of the ankles in all nineteen operatively managed patients; however, the remodeling was most complete in the younger patients. Pronation deformities of the ankle did not change after excision of the tumor. Complications of operative treatment included four recurrences (only three of which were symptomatic), one sural neuroma, one superficial wound infection, and one instance of growth arrest of the distal aspects of the tibia and fibula.


Osteochondromas of the distal and lateral aspects of the tibia were more often symptomatic than those of the distal aspect of the fibula; they most commonly occurred in the second decade of life with ankle pain, a palpable mass, and unrestricted ankle motion. Untreated or partially excised lesions in skeletally immature patients may become larger and cause plastic deformation of the tibia and fibula and a pronation deformity of the ankle. Ideally, operative intervention should be delayed until skeletal maturity, but, in symptomatic patients, partial excision preserving the physis may be necessary for the relief of symptoms and the prevention of progressive ankle deformity. However, partial excision is associated with a high rate of recurrence, so a close follow-up is required. Skeletally mature patients who are symptomatic may require excision of the tumor.

About Author Dr. Kingsley R. Chin

Postoperative Cervical Haematoma Complicated by Ipsilateral Carotid Thrombosis and Aphasia After Anterior Cervical Fusion: a Case Report
Dr. Kingsley R. Chin, Founder of philosophy and practice of The LES Society and The LESS Institute

Dr. Kingsley R. Chin is a board certified Harvard-trained orthopedic spine surgeon and professor with copious business and information technology exposure. He sees a niche opportunity where medicine, business and info. tech meet – and is uniquely educated at the intersection of these three professions. He has experience as Professor of Clinical Biomedical Sciences & Admissions Committee Member at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Visiting Spine Surgeon & Professor at the University of the West Indies, Mona, and Adjunct Professor of Clinical Biomedical Studies at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

Learn more about Dr. Chin here and connect via LinkedIn.

About Less Exposure Surgery

Less Exposure Surgery (LES) is based on a new philosophy of performing surgery, leading the charge to prove through bench and clinical outcomes research that LES treatment options are the best solutions – to lowering the cost of healthcare, improving outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction. Learn more at LESSociety.org.

The LES Society philosophy: “Tailor treatment to the individual aiding in the quickest recovery and return to a pain-free lifestyle, using LES® techniques that lessen exposure, preserve unoffending anatomy and utilize new technologies which are safe, easy to adopt and reproducible. These LES®techniques lessen blood loss, surgical time and exposure to radiation and can be safely performed in an outpatient center. Less is more.” – Kingsley R. Chin, MD

About The LESS Institute

The LESS Institute is the world leader center of excellence in Less Exposure Surgery. Our safe, effective outpatient treatments help patients recover quickly, avoid expensive hospital stays and return home to their family the same day. Watch our patient stories, follow us on Facebook and visit TheLESSInstitute.com to learn more.

About SpineFrontier

The above study utilized LES Technology from SpineFrontier – leading provider of LES Technologies and instruments – offering surgeons and patients superior technology and services.

Scientific Paper Author and Citation Details


Chin KR1Kharrazi FDMiller BSMankin HJGebhardt MC.

Author information

  1. Orthopaedic Oncology Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114-2696, USA. kchin@partners.org

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