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Simple Bone Cyst in Kids

Information for Patients

You may have some questions about simple bone cysts.

What exactly is a simple bone cyst or unicameral bone cyst?

The two terms refer to the same condition, a small cyst filled with fluid that sits on a bone. For consistency, we will use the term simple bone cyst (SBC) throughout our trial document and discussion.

SBCs are actually the most common bone lesions in children and teenagers. They are often found in the bone of the upper arm (humerus) and leg (femur). Males are more likely to develop SBCs compared to females. While there are some theories, their actual cause remains unclear.

What are the symptoms?

Many patients with SBCs do not present any symptoms, making them unaware of the condition. Others may experience pain and/or fractures in the affected bone.

How are they diagnosed?

Doctors can diagnose SBCs from X-rays, which are images of your bones. If more detail is required, patients may be asked to have a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What treatments are currently available?

There are a number of options available for treating SBCs including:

  1. Monitoring only
  2. Injection into cyst
  3. Breaking the cyst
  4. Using plates or pins to stabilize the cyst

Doctors will choose an option based on the patient, their preference, and features of the SBC. Some patients require multiple treatments to completely eliminate the cyst. At this time, we do not know which one is the best option for treating SBCs.

What happens if cysts are not treated?

If untreated, SBCs can continue to expand and weaken the affected bone. Patients may experience pain and/or additional fractures. If cysts are located near the ends of a growing bone, it can disturb growth resulting in a deformity or difference in limb lengths.

Will they come back?

Even after successful treatment, SBCs can return in the same location. This tends to happen more in younger patients. Therefore, continued follow up with patients after treatment is highly recommended.