Osteoid osteoma: The uniquely innervated bone tumor

John X. O'Connell, Senthil Selvi Nanthakumar, Gunnlaugur P. Nielsen, Andrew E. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Osteoid osteomas are benign bone-forming tumors that despite their small size (< 2.0 cm) characteristically produce severe nocturnal bone pain that is relieved by aspirin. This typical clinical presentation is virtually unique among bone tumors. Histologically, osteoid osteomas are circumscribed nodules of woven bone and osteoid with prominent osteoblastic rimming (the nidus), surrounded by thickened cortical and trabecular bone and loose fibro-vascular tissue (the reactive zone). Prostaglandins mediate the pain of osteoid osteomas, but there have been few studies of their innervation. We investigated 34 osteoid osteomas using a streptavidin immunohistochemical technique and a panel of antibodies to neural and neural-associated antigens (phosphorylated neurofilament, neurofilament, and S-100 protein). Whenever possible, sections of the nidus and the reactive zone were stained. As controls, we stained other bone tumors that can be painful, including 10 osteoblastomas, 5 osteosarcomas, 6 giant cell tumors, 4 chondroblastomas, 3 aneurysmal bone cysts, and 6 cases of fibrous dysplasia. Twenty-five osteoid osteomas contained phosphorylated neurofilament-, neurofilament-, and/or S- 100-positive nerve fibers in the reactive zone around the nidus and/or in the nidus. The nerve fibers were larger and more abundant in the reactive zone than in the nidus, and they were occasionally visible on hematoxylin- and eosinstained slides on retrospective review. The smaller nerve fibers within the nidi were never identified, even after extensive review of those slides. In the nine cases in which nerve fibers were not identified, the sampled tissue consisted only of nidus. None of the control 'bone tumors' contained detectable nerve fibers within their substance or in the adjacent peripheral bone. The nerve supply of osteoid osteoma seems unique among bone tumors, and it might serve as a marker in diagnostically difficult cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-180
Number of pages6
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone tumors
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Osteoblastoma
  • Osteoid osteoma
  • Peripheral nerves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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