Twenty-one patients (17 women and four men) who underwent operative treatment for a solitary enchondroma of the hand were examined at a follow-up of between 2 and 18 years (mean, 9 years). Radiographs showed normal cancellous bone at the site of surgery in 11 cases, three had recurrent enchondroma and seven had bone defects so that recurrence could not be excluded. Two of the three recurrences underwent reoperation. Previous studies have regarded persistent bony defects as evidence of complete excision without recurrence. However, in view of the slow asymptomatic growth of this tumour this opinion is incorrect. As shown in this study, recurrences may occur in these defects many years after excision surgery and go undetected until they cause widening or cortical erosion. We recommend periodical radiological re-examination for asymptomatic recurrences before weakness of bone leads to pathological fracture.



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