The cause of osteochondroma is unknown. A hereditary form of the disease may be linked to problems with your genes.

Risk Factors

Your chances of osteochondroma are higher if you:

  • Are a child or teen.
  • Are male.
  • Have other people in your family with the same problems.
  • Have many osteochondromas on your bones. These are hereditary and rare.



Osteochondroma may cause:

  • A hard, bony lump that may be:
    • Painless and not tender, but the tissue around it may become irritated and painful
    • Enlarging in size
  • A long bone that breaks with less than the usual amount of force
  • Pressure on nearby structures, including nerves


You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. Your answers and a physical exam may point to osteochondroma. They may also have:

Imaging tests such as:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Angiography

Your child's doctor may do a biopsy . A tissue sample is taken and checked in a lab. This will determine if the lump is cancerous.



Your child's doctor will go over treatment options. These may be:

  • Monitoring—If the lump is not causing pain or other problems, it may be left alone. You and the doctor will keep track of it for any changes or new problems.
  • Surgery—The lump is removed if it causes pain or other complications. It’s also removed if there is a chance of cancer. If the bone is weak, it can be rebuilt. Rebuilding the bone is done over a long period of time.


There is no way to prevent osteochondroma since the cause is unknown.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.