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PLoS One. 2011 Jan 31;6(1):e16632. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016632.

Troublesome heterotopic ossification after central nervous system damage: a survey of 570 surgeries.

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Service de Médecine Physique et de Réadaptation, Hôpital Raymond Poincaré, Garches, France.



Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a frequent complication after central nervous system (CNS) damage but has seldom been studied. We aimed to investigate features of HO for the first time in a large sample and the rate of early recurrence of HO in terms of the time of surgery.


We retrospectively analyzed data from an anonymous prospective survey of patients undergoing surgery between May 1993 and November 2009 in our institution for troublesome HO related to acquired neurological disease. Demographic and HO characteristics and neurological etiologies were recorded. For 357 consecutive patients, we collected data on 539 first surgeries for HO (129 surgeries for multiple sites). During the follow-up, recurrences requiring another surgery appeared in 31 cases (5.8% [31/539]; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.8%-7.8%; 27 patients). Most HO requiring surgery occurred after traumatic brain injury (199 patients [55.7%]), then spinal cord injury (86 [24.0%]), stroke (42 [11.8%]) and cerebral anoxia (30 [8.6%]). The hip was the primary site of HO (328 [60.9%]), then the elbow (115 [21.3%]), knee (77 [14.3%]) and shoulder (19 [3.5%]). For all patients, 181 of the surgeries were performed within the first year after the CNS damage, without recurrence of HO. Recurrence was not associated with etiology (p = 0.46), sex (p = 1.00), age at CNS damage (p = 0.2), multisite localization (p = 0.34), or delay to surgery (p = 0.7).


In patients with CNS damage, troublesome HO and recurrence occurs most frequently after traumatic brain injury and appears frequently in the hip and elbow. Early surgery for HO is not a factor of recurrence.

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