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Wait-and-scan: an alternative for curettage in atypical cartilaginous tumours of the long bones

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Due to its indolent clinical behaviour, the treatment paradigm of atypical cartilaginous tumours (ACTs) in the long bones is slowly shifting from intralesional resection (curettage) and local adjuvants, towards active surveillance through wait-and-scan follow-up. In this retrospective cohort study performed in a tertiary referral centre, we studied the natural behaviour of ACT lesions by active surveillance with MRI. Clinical symptoms were not considered in the surveillance programme.


The aim of this study was to see whether active surveillance is safe regarding malignant degeneration and local progression. In total, 117 patients were evaluated with MRI assessing growth, cortical destruction, endosteal scalloping, periosteal reaction, relation to the cortex, and perilesional bone marrow oedema. Patients received up to six follow-up scans.


At the time of the first follow-up MRI, 8% of the lesions showed growth (n = 9), 86% remained stable (101), and 6% decreased in size (n = 7). During the third follow-up, with a mean follow-up time of 60 months (SD 23), 24 patients were scanned, of whom 13% had lesions that had grown and 13% lesions that had decreased in size. After 96 months (SD 37), at the sixth follow-up MRI, 100% of the lesions remained stable. None of the lesions showed malignant progression and although some lesions grew in size (mean 1 mm (SD 0.8)), no malignant progression occurred.


We conclude that active surveillance with MRI is safe for ACTs in the long bones in the short- and mid-term follow-up.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2024;106-B(1):86–92.

Correspondence should be sent to Miss Claire H. J. Scholte. E-mail:

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