How Are Unicameral Bone Cysts Treated?
Treatment for unicameral bone cysts depends on a number of factors including where the cyst is located, how strong the bone is, where the cyst is located, and what the chances are for a fracture.
Treatment options include:
- Nonoperative/”Watchful Waiting”: Small UBCs that are not causing symptoms can be treated by observation and repeating X-rays to watch the size of the UBC. Sometimes your doctor may ask your child to decrease physical activity (including sports) if there is a concern that a fracture could occur through the cyst. Many times, especially a fracture that occurs in the arm, your doctor may recommend waiting for the fracture to heal on its own before recommending surgery. Sometimes, the UBC will even go away on its own after the fracture heals.
- Sclerosis and Grafting: This is a new minimally-invasive technique which was developed by our Interventional Radiology team. It involves treating the cysts with small needles without the need for stitches. While your child is asleep, two small needles are placed in the cyst to drain the fluid. Next, a sclerosant (a caustic chemical) is injected into the cyst to destroy the underlying cyst. The cyst is then filled with regenerative bone graft to help strengthen the cyst. The bone graft is temporary and usually disappears in a few months once new healthy bone starts forming. The early studies from this technique are very promising and because it is minimally invasive, it is generally the preferred approach.
- Surgery: Surgery may occasionally be performed in the cases of very large cysts in critical locations or cysts that have fractured and are unstable. If surgery is performed, it may require curettage, which involves scraping the lining of the cyst out of the bone with special tools. Your surgeon may then fill the hole in the bone with bone graft.
Treatment at Lurie Children's
UBCs are treated by our Interventional Radiology team which is made up of doctors, advanced practice providers, nurses and technologists, all sub-specialized in pediatric interventional radiology.
Learn More About Our Team