Aneurysmal Bone Cysts (ABCs)

Most common to children and adolescents, these spinal tumors cause pain and swelling, and can be large and vascular (numerous blood vessels).

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Symptoms

This type of cyst usually occurs in the long bones of the legs and arms but can affect almost any bone. The main signs are pain and swelling.

Causes and Risk Factors

These cysts usually occur without any known cause. They affect people who are 20 or younger.

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Diagnosis

The cyst may be present for a few weeks to a few years before diagnosis. It tends to grow slowly until therapy is begun.

The appearance on X-ray often is characteristic because it has clear boundaries and is located away from the center of the bone. Additionally, soft tissue bulges into the outer part of the bone, where new bone is formed.

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Treatments

Removing the cyst with surgery is the most successful treatment. The cyst may come back if it is not completely removed during surgery. Radiation is used to treat these cysts when they are pressing on the spinal cord in areas that are difficult or impossible to reach with surgery. After radiation, however, sarcomas occasionally occur.

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