Management of Terminal Osseous Overgrowth of the Humerus With Simple Resection and Osteocartilaginous Grafts

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Osseous overgrowth is a common complication in children after humeral transcortical amputation. Capping tibial overgrowth with the proximal fibula has been shown to be the most effective treatment. However, best treatment practices are not clear for the humerus. We compared patients treated surgically for humeral osseous overgrowth with simple resection or autologous osteocartilaginous graft to determine if this treatment were as effective in the humerus as it has been in the tibia.


A retrospective review of humeral amputees from 1987 to 2011 at a pediatric hospital was performed. Patients with 2 years follow-up who underwent surgical treatment for established humeral overgrowth were included. Patients initially managed with simple resection were compared with those managed with autologous osteocartilaginous grafts. Descriptive statistics were calculated for demographic and outcome variables. T tests and χ2 tests were used to compare differences between groups.


Eighteen humeri in 16 patients met inclusion criteria. Mean age at surgery was 8.3 (2.6 to 13.6) years and mean follow-up was 6.3 (1.5 to 10.4) years. Thirteen humeri underwent simple resection, with recurrent overgrowth in 9, and revision surgery in 8 at a mean 2.6 years. Five humeri were primarily managed with autologous osteocartilaginous grafts. Two developed non–overgrowth-related complications at 1 and 42 months. Including revision procedures after simple resection, 10 humeri were managed with autologous osteocartilaginous grafts. Thirty percent (3/10) required revision surgery; however, there were no cases of recurrent overgrowth. χ2 comparison showed lower rates of complications (P=0.004) and reoperation (P=0.012) with capping as compared with simple resection.


Autologous osteocartilaginous capping of the humerus has a significantly lower rate of complications and reoperation compared with simple resection. However, the capping procedure has the potential for other complications related to difficulty with graft fixation. Surgeons should be aware that the outcomes are not as consistent as when the technique is applied to osseous overgrowth of the tibia and anticipate the possibilities of hardware prominence and difficulty with fixation.

Level of Evidence:

Level 3—therapeutic-retrospective comparative.

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