How safe is curettage of low-grade cartilaginous neoplasms diagnosed by imaging with or without pre-operative needle biopsy?

M T Brown, P D Gikas, J S Bhamra, J A Skinner, W J S Aston, R C Pollock, A Saifuddin, T W R Briggs
Bone & Joint Journal 2014, 96-B (8): 1098-105
The pre-operative differentiation between enchondroma, low-grade chondrosarcoma and high-grade chondrosarcoma remains a diagnostic challenge. We reviewed the accuracy and safety of the radiological grading of cartilaginous tumours through the assessment of, first, pre-operative radiological and post-operative histological agreement, and second the rate of recurrence in lesions confirmed as high-grade on histology. We performed a retrospective review of major long bone cartilaginous tumours managed by curettage as low grade between 2001 and 2012. A total of 53 patients with a mean age of 47.6 years (8 to 71) were included. There were 23 men and 30 women. The tumours involved the femur (n = 20), humerus (n = 18), tibia (n = 9), fibula (n = 3), radius (n = 2) and ulna (n = 1). Pre-operative diagnoses resulted from multidisciplinary consensus following radiological review alone for 35 tumours, or with the addition of pre-operative image guided needle biopsy for 18. The histologically confirmed diagnosis was enchondroma for two (3.7%), low-grade chondrosarcoma for 49 (92.6%) and high-grade chondrosarcoma for two (3.7%). Three patients with a low-grade tumour developed a local recurrence at a mean of 15 months (12 to 17) post-operatively. A single high-grade recurrence (grade II) was treated with tibial diaphyseal replacement. The overall recurrence rate was 7.5% at a mean follow-up of 4.7 years (1.2 to 12.3). Cartilaginous tumours identified as low-grade on pre-operative imaging with or without additional image-guided needle biopsy can safely be managed as low-grade without pre-operative histological diagnosis. A few tumours may demonstrate high-grade features histologically, but the rates of recurrence are not affected.

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