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Benign osteochondromas and exostotic chondrosarcomas: evaluation of cartilage cap thickness by ultrasound


Ultrasonography (US) enables accurate assessment of the cartilage cap of exostoses. The cartilage cap appears as a hypoechoic layer covering the hyperechoic surface of the calcified part. Measurements of cap thickness with US were compared with measurements performed on pathological specimens in 22 resected exostoses and 2 exostotic chondrosarcomas. The US measurements proved to be very accurate, with a mean measurement error of less than 2 mm for cartilage caps less than 2 cm thick. The detection rate and measurement accuracy of US were higher than with computed tomography (CT) and comparable to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which were available in 14 and 10 cases, respectively. US appears to be a good procedure for evaluating the cartilage cap, which is usually thin for a benign exostosis and thick for a malignancy. In addition, other complications — such as bursa formation — are easily recognizable. The sole limitation is that US cannot visualize the cartilage cap when it is inwardly orientated or deeply located in soft tissues, which are both, however, relatively uncommon situations.

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Correspondence to Jacques Malghem M.D..

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Malghem, J., Berg, B.V., Noël, H. et al. Benign osteochondromas and exostotic chondrosarcomas: evaluation of cartilage cap thickness by ultrasound. Skeletal Radiol. 21, 33–37 (1992).

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Key words

  • Osteochondroma
  • Exostoses
  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Ultrasound, comparative studies
  • Bones, US studies