Aneurysmal bone cyst

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Aneurysmal bone cyst
Aneurysmal bone cyst (ABC) (Radiopaedia 14333-14240 bone window 2).jpg
Aneurysmal bone cyst (fibula, around knee).
SpecialtyNoncancerous bone tumor
SymptomsPain and swelling in the affected bone

Aneurysmal bone cyst (ABC), is a noncancerous bone tumor.[1][2]

It appears as varying sizes of spaces filled with solid lumps of tissue and blood.[1][3]

The term is a misnomer, as the lesion is neither an aneurysm nor a cyst.[3]

Treatment is usually by curettage, bone grafting or surgically removing the part of bone.[1]

It is rare.[4] 20-30% may recur, usually in the first couple of years after treatment, particularly in children.[1]

Signs and symptoms

It generally presents with pain and swelling in the affected bone in someone under the age of 20.[1] Pressure on neighbouring tissues may cause compression effects such as neurological symptoms.[1]

The afflicted may have relatively small amounts of pain that will quickly increase in severity over a time period of 6–12 weeks. The skin temperature around the bone may increase, a bony swelling may be evident, and movement may be restricted in adjacent joints.[5]

Spinal lesions may cause quadriplegia and patients with skull lesions may have headaches.[citation needed]


Commonly affected sites are the spine, thigh bone and lower leg bone.[1] Approximate percentages by sites are as shown:[citation needed]

  • Lower leg (24%)
  • Upper extremity (21%)
  • Spine (16%)
  • Pelvis and sacrum (12%)
  • Femur (13%)
  • Clavicle and ribs (5%)
  • Skull and mandible (4%)
  • Foot (3%)


Aneurysmal bone cyst has been widely regarded a reactive process of uncertain cause since its initial description by Jaffe and Lichtenstein in 1942. Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain the cause and pathogenesis of aneurysmal bone cyst, and until very recently the most commonly accepted idea was that aneurysmal bone cyst was the consequence of an increased venous pressure and resultant dilation and rupture of the local vascular network. However, studies by Panoutsakopoulus et al. and Oliveira et al. uncovered the clonal neoplastic nature of aneurysmal bone cyst. Primary cause has been regarded arteriovenous fistula within bone.[6]

The lesion may arise de novo or may arise secondarily within a pre-existing bone tumor, because the abnormal bone causes changes in hemodynamics. An aneurysmal bone cyst can arise from a pre-existing chondroblastoma, a chondromyxoid fibroma, an osteoblastoma, a giant cell tumor, or fibrous dysplasia. A giant cell tumor is the most common cause, occurring in 19% to 39% of cases. Less frequently, it results from some malignant tumors, such as osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and hemangioendothelioma.[citation needed]


Micrograph of an aneurysmal bone cyst. H&E stain.

Histologically, they are classified in two variants.[citation needed]

  • The classic (or standard) form (95%) has blood filled clefts among bony trabeculae. Osteoid tissue is found in stromal matrix.
  • The solid form (5%) shows fibroblastic proliferation, osteoid production and degenerated calcifying fibromyxoid elements.

According to Buraczewski and Dabska, the development of the aneurysmal bone cyst follows three stages.[3]

Stage Description
Initial phase (I) Osteolysis without peculiar findings
Growth phase (II)
  • Rapid increase in size of osseous erosion
  • Enlargement of involved bone
  • Formation of shell around central part of lesion
Stabilization phase (III) Fully developed radiological pattern

They can also be associated with a TRE17/USP6 translocation.[7]

Aneurysmal bone cysts may be intraosseous, staying inside of the bone marrow. Or they may be extraosseous, developing on the surface of the bone, and extending into the marrow. A radiograph will reveal a soap bubble appearance.[citation needed]


On a radiograph, well-defined, expansile, lytic lesion is observed. Expansion of cortex gives the lesion a balloon-like appearance. Larger lesions may appear septated[8]

Differential diagnosis

Following conditions are excluded before diagnosis can be confirmed:[9]

  • Unicameral bone cyst
  • Giant cell tumor
  • Telangiectatic osteosarcoma
  • Secondary aneurysmal bone cyst


Curettage is performed on some patients,[10] and is sufficient for inactive lesions. The recurrence rate with curettage is significant in active lesions, and marginal resection has been advised. Liquid nitrogen, phenol, methyl methacrylate are considered for use to kill cells at margins of resected cyst.[6]


Recurrence rate of solid form of tumour is lower than classic form.[6]


It is rare.[4] It is commonest in age group of 10–30 years.[8] It is second most common tumor of spine and most common benign tumor of pelvis in pediatric population.[6] Incidence is slightly more in males than females (1.3:1).[9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Bone tumours. What are Bone Tumours?". Archived from the original on 24 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  2. Stevens, Kyle J.; Stevens, James A. (5 September 2020). "Aneurysmal Bone Cysts". StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Maroldi, Roberto (2005). Imaging in Treatment Planning for Sinonasal Diseases. Springer. pp. 114–116. ISBN 9783540266310.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Muratori, Francesco; Mondanelli, Nicola; Rizzo, Anna Rosa; Beltrami, Giovanni; Giannotti, Stefano; Capanna, Rodolfo; Campanacci, Domenico Andrea (10 November 2019). "Aneurysmal Bone Cyst: A Review of Management". Surgical Technology International. 35: 325–335. ISSN 1090-3941. PMID 31476792.
  5. Zadik, Yehuda; Aktaş Alper; Drucker Scott; Nitzan W Dorrit (2012). "Aneurysmal bone cyst of mandibular condyle: A case report and review of the literature". J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 40 (8): e243–8. doi:10.1016/j.jcms.2011.10.026. PMID 22118925.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Pediatric Orthopedics in Practice. Springer. 2007. pp. 151–155. ISBN 9783540699644.
  7. Ye Y, Pringle LM, Lau AW, et al. (June 2010). "TRE17/USP6 oncogene translocated in aneurysmal bone cyst induces matrix metalloproteinase production via activation of NF-kappaB". Oncogene. 29 (25): 3619–29. doi:10.1038/onc.2010.116. PMC 2892027. PMID 20418905.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Davies, Arthur (2002). Who Manual Of Diagnostic Imaging: Radiographic Anatomy And Interpretation Of The Muskuloskeletal System, VOlume. World Health Organization. pp. 168–186. ISBN 9241545550.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Differential Diagnosis in Surgical Pathology: Expert Consult - Online and Print, 2e. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2010. pp. 878–879. ISBN 9781416045809.
  10. Mankin HJ, Hornicek FJ, Ortiz-Cruz E, Villafuerte J, Gebhardt MC (September 2005). "Aneurysmal bone cyst: a review of 150 patients". J. Clin. Oncol. 23 (27): 6756–62. doi:10.1200/JCO.2005.15.255. PMID 16170183. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15.

External links

External resources