Unicameral bone cyst (UBC) is the most common benign lytic bone lesion seen in children. The aim of this study is to investigate clinical factors affecting pathological fracture and healing of UBC.

We retrospectively reviewed 155 UBC patients who consulted Nagoya musculoskeletal oncology group hospitals in Japan. Sixty of the 155 patients had pathological fracture at presentation. Of 141 patients with follow-up periods exceeding 6 months, 77 were followed conservatively and 64 treated by surgery.

The fracture risk was significantly higher in the humerus than other bones. In multivariate analysis, ballooning of bone, cyst in long bone, male sex, thin cortical thickness and multilocular cyst were significant adverse prognostic factors for pathological fractures at presentation. The healing rates were 30% and 83% with observation and surgery, respectively. Multivariate analysis revealed that fracture at presentation and history of biopsy were good prognostic factors for healing of UBC in patients under observation.

The present results suggest that mechanical disruption of UBC such as fracture and biopsy promotes healing, and thus watchful waiting is indicated in these patients, whereas patients with poor prognostic factors for fractures should be considered for surgery.

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