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J Nucl Med. 2002 Mar;43(3):346-53.

Heterotopic ossification.

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Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait.


Heterotopic ossification (HO) is the presence of bone in soft tissue where bone normally does not exist. The acquired form of HO most frequently is seen with either musculoskeletal trauma, spinal cord injury, or central nervous system injury. For example, patients who have recently undergone total hip arthroplasty or have paraplegia after spinal cord injury are at risk for HO. The fever, swelling, erythema, and occasional joint tenderness seen in early HO can be difficult to distinguish from cellulitis, osteomyelitis, or thrombophlebitis. Bone scanning and other imaging tests frequently are used to distinguish between these diagnostic possibilities. As treatment or prophylaxis for HO, either a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (such as indomethacin), a diphosphonate (such as ethane-1-hydroxy-1,1-diphosphate), or local radiation therapy is recommended. Before therapy begins, bone scanning may be requested to confirm the diagnosis of HO. In addition, surgical resection of HO is used to preserve joint mobility; however, HO is likely to recur and possibly progress if resection is undertaken before the lesion has become mature. With a view toward avoiding recurrent HO and other operative complications, serial quantitative bone scans are used as an aid to time surgical intervention.

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