When Amber discovered she had a bone cyst in her tibia, she worried she wouldn’t be able to continue her active lifestyle. Would she ever be able to walk the same? Luckily, thanks to her successful bone cyst removal surgery with orthopaedic surgeon, Craig P. Jones, M.D., the answer was a resounding, “Yes!”
“I was really glad Dr. Jones took care of me,” Amber says. “Here I am, back in the gym able to do what I could do before and [I’m] able to live my life.”
Although a bone cyst diagnosis is frightening at first, treatment is often successful and can prevent the bone cyst from impacting your life. What do you need to know about bone cyst removal surgery?
What Is a Bone Cyst and What Are Its Symptoms?
A bone cyst is a fluid-filled hole that can occur inside the bones of both children and adults. Typically, cysts do not present any symptoms; however larger cysts can lead to a bone becoming weak, thereby increasing the likelihood of a fracture (break).
“Though not often, sometimes the bone cyst can progress to a point where it can cause permanent damage to the bone if left unattended,” says Dr. Jones, board-certified orthopaedic surgeon fellowship trained in orthopaedic oncology.
Children generally develop simple cysts in the long bones such as the femur or the humerus, and these tumors are typically benign (meaning non-cancerous) without featuring noticeable symptoms. In fact, when a child has a bone cyst, it is often discovered by chance on X-rays when the child goes to the doctor for an unrelated medical reason.
Adult patients usually develop aneurismal bone cysts, which can occur throughout the skeletal system. These are more aggressive in nature and grow rapidly in the body without bone cyst removal intervention.
What Are the Types of Bone Cysts That Can Occur?
There are two types of bone cysts that determine the course of action and recovery:
A unicameral bone cyst, or simple bone cyst, creates a cavity in the bone that fills with fluid. This typically occurs in young children and teenagers. While they are considered benign, a cyst can become more invasive and damage the bone’s growth plate or impact the metaphysis (the area where bone shaft and the end of the bone meet).
An aneurysmal bone cyst, while still benign, has the potential to swell in the bone causing pain and creating an increased likelihood of fractures. Depending on the age of the patient, aneurysmal bone cysts have the potential to deform or damage the bone.
Unicameral bone cysts treatments are dependent on the likelihood of a fracture or further damage. If necessary, a surgeon will remove the cyst and fill the remaining cavity with a donor’s bone tissue. Other treatment options may include injection of bone marrow or steroids into the cyst to assist the healing process. For an aneurysmal bone cyst, however, removal surgery is often a necessity because they can grow quite aggressively without this type of intervention.
With a variety of treatment options, there is a course of action to fit each patient. In Amber’s case, she discovered that her bone cyst had hollowed out her tibia, leading to a weakened bone structure. “Obviously,” she says, “the tumor had to come out.”
What Is the Treatment for Bone Cysts?
When it comes to effective bone cyst treatment, it’s important to keep in mind that only an orthopaedic specialist is equipped to properly diagnose and outline your treatment plan. This plan could include any of the following treatment methods:
Monitoring: When a benign cyst shows no signs of growing or causing any pain or damage to the bone, then it may be sufficient to simply monitor the cyst carefully over time and let it resolve with time.
Radiation Therapy: As with other benign or cancerous tumors, radiation can be a solution to reduce the size of the bone cyst without surgery.
Surgical Treatment: When other treatments would fail to provide relief from pain or remove the effects of the cyst entirely, a variety of surgical procedures are worth considering.
When Amber met with Dr. Jones, they discussed these treatment options. In order to remove the tumor and get her back on her feet as quickly as possible, she chose to have bone cyst removal surgery and have a rod placed in her tibia once the cyst was removed.
“With the removal of the cyst and the placement of the rod, as in Amber’s situation, the likelihood of sustained damage in minimized and recovery can begin immediately,” says Dr. Jones.
A mere six weeks after her bone cyst removal surgery, Amber was walking again on her way back to the gym and her job as a server at a busy restaurant.
What Is Bone Cyst Removal Surgery?
There are several surgical options for the treatment of bone cysts including:
Curettage: Also known as bone grafting, it is the most common bone cyst surgery for those suffering from aneurysmal bone cysts.
Cryotherapy: A surgical procedure in which the aneurysmal bone cyst is frozen to prevent it from returning in the future.
Bone Removal: This surgery will only be performed on expandable bones in cases of large aneurysmal bone cysts with a high probability that the cyst will redevelop.
Most bone cyst removal surgeries will involve a curettage, the most common treatment for an aneurysmal bone cyst. An instrument called a curette is used to scrape the cyst out of the bone. This process is typically followed by bone grafting to repair the bone.
Most surgeries will involve a curettage, the most common treatment for aneurysmal bone cyst. An instrument called a curette is used to scrape the cyst out of the bone. This process is typically followed by bone grafting to repair the bone.
What is the Recovery Process After Bone Cyst Removal?
Amber Kellum Resumes Her Active Lifestyle
The recovery process after a bone cyst removal is entirely dependent on the size and severity of the condition. In some cases, patients may resume normal physical activity within four to six weeks of surgery.
In Amber’s case, with the addition of the rod in her tibia, she could begin her recovery sooner following the cyst removal procedure. Although it can be a challenging process, physical therapy will allow most patients to return to their normal lifestyle.
Amber says she feels stronger and better than ever after healing from her bone cyst removal surgery. “You’ve just got to have the mindset of knowing that it’s going to get better and you’re going to get back to where you were before,” she says. “it just might be a little tough for a little bit, but they’re here to help you get through it.”
What are the Results of Bone Cyst Removal?
As bone cysts tend to occur in children and teenagers, there is often a potential for bone cysts to return later in life. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, unicameral bone cysts return in 25-50 percent of patients. The risk is higher the younger the child was during the initial treatment. The treatment and recovery processes are the same and your doctor will schedule X-rays regularly to monitor this condition.
With the help of Dr. Jones and the team at Orlando Orthopaedic Center, Amber is now able to return to the gym and live the physically active life she wants. She, like many patients, was able to return to her normal lifestyle after the cyst has been successfully removed.
“Everyone is here for you and to get you back in your active lifestyle, whatever that may be,” she says. “They always took great care of me and let me know what was going on and where we were at. If anything I feel stronger and better than ever.”
If you are interested in learning more about your bone cyst treatment options, contact us today for a consultation with an orthopaedic specialist.