An osteoma is a boney tumor; it is an extra growth from the membranes of the skeletal bones of the body. Commonly found on the facial and skull bones, an osteoma is often a non-symptomatic, noncancerous, and benign tumor. An osteoma can cause pain and inflammation when it obstructs a normal functioning organ that is growing near it.
Types of osteomas (osteomata)
When more than one growth exists, they are medically termed as osteomata, though it would also be correct to call them osteomas. There are different types of osteomata; they include:
Homoplastic osteoma – It is called a homoplastic osteoma when it starts to grow on a bone.
Heteroplastic (also called eteroplastic) osteoma – It is called heteroplastic or eteroplastic osteoma when it is found on other tissues of the body.
Of the above listed osteomata, there are two classifications which are compact and spongy. When the osteoma is made of mature lamellar bone, it is called compact osteoma, and when it is made of trabecular bone with marrow, it is called spongy osteoma. Lamellar bone is the bone that covers the canals in the bone where blood vessels pass through. Trabecular bone is softer bone tissue that is normally found at the ends of the bones near the joints.
Symptoms of osteomas (osteomata)
Osteomas or osteomata can cause breathing difficulties when they grow in the naso-frontal ducts, where they can block the air passages there. Osteomas are slow growing tumors; therefore they do not have any symptoms at the start. They could become the seat of infection, which could result in severe facial fain, headache and other associated symptoms.
Though osteomata are common in the neck and facial areas, they could appear anywhere in the body. These bony tumors could appear anywhere in the body, and affect anyone of any age. However, the incidence of osteoma tumors is more common in people from 30 to 50 years of age. Studies indicate that the female population is three times more likely to be affected by osteomata. Prolonged history of blocked sinuses has been reported as a frequent symptom of this disease.
Causes of osteomas (osteomata)
Though, the exact nature and cause of osteomas have not yet been established, many medical researchers claim this to be a developmental anomaly. However, recent studies on swimmers and divers working in cold water suggest there may be an association between allergic and inflammatory reactions in the body that could lead to the development of osteomata.
Diagnosis of osteomas (osteomata)
Diagnosis of an osteoma can be difficult until a specific symptom is presented, which in most cases the symptom is a side effect caused by the location and growth of the osteoma. The side effect to the osteoma could be difficult breathing due to the tumor blocking an air passage. Another side effect could be hearing difficulties due to an osteoma obstructing one of the ear canals, or speech difficulties related to a tumor growing on tongue tissue. In rare cases, osteomata will grow to be quite large on the clavicle (collar bone), pelvis and tubular bones (bones you sit on).
A physical examination by a trained medical professional will establish the presence of an osteoma. The diagnosis of an osteoma will be confirmed with an X-ray. Osteomata have a characteristic appearance on CT scans. Central osteomata appear as well delineated sclerotic lesions with smooth borders. They don’t exhibit any irregularities or further satellite lesions. In such cases, the adjacent bone cortex does not get involved or weakened by the osteoma. Contrary to this, peripheral osteomata appear as radio-opaque lesions with expansive borders on the CT scan image.
Treatment for osteomas (osteomata)
Multiple osteomata are dangerous; they can be associated with another disorder called Gardner syndrome. Though, the instances are rare, Gardner syndrome, with its characteristic colorectal adenomatous polyp-s might lead to cancer of the colon and rectum. Thus, osteomata of these areas must be carefully studied and removed. As the osteomata continue to grow, they might lead to a future complication and emergency. It is imperative for the attending medical doctor to suggest removal of the extra growth.
The treatment for an osteoma that is causing problems involves surgical removal of the obstructing growths. Surgeons often perform a procedure called curettage, where the osteoma is scraped and scooped out of the area. This procedure also requires a matching donor bone tissue to be used to fill in the hollow created due to the clearing away of the extra growth. Extremely rare cases of osteoma might require a complete removal of the growth along with the associated sections of the bones. Medically, this procedure is called en bloc resection.
Advancements in the treatment of osteomata have introduced new procedures using radio frequency waves that are passed through the bony tumors with embedded needles. The radio waves kill the cells and tissues of the tumor; this procedure will prevent the growth of the osteomata. The radio frequency wave treatment is minimally invasive; it is performed without general anesthesia. This procedure is very helpful in treating osteomata of the spinal column and preferable to surgery, because surgery being such a delicate procedure could induce future complications such as back pain and paralysis.