What Is Ollier Disease?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2018
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Ollier disease is a rare type of skeletal disorder that involves a form of abnormal bone development known as skeletal dysplasia. While it is thought that this condition is present from birth, it is usually not recognized or diagnosed until early childhood, when symptoms begin to become apparent. This condition causes masses of cartilage to grow and form benign tumors known as enchondromas. These abnormal growths usually stabilize by the time puberty occurs, as the cartilage is replaced by bone. Any questions or concerns about Ollier disease should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The tumors caused by Ollier disease often cause skeletal deformities and may lead to one arm or leg being a different length from the other. The exact cause of this disease is not fully understood, although a genetic component is suspected. The skeletal abnormalities caused by Ollier disease are usually diagnosed by the time the affected child is 10 years of age.

The long bones of the arms and legs as well as the associated joints and cartilage are the most affected by Ollier disease, although other areas of the skeleton may be affected as well. The pelvis is often affected to some degree by this disease. In rare cases, the sternum, ribs, or skull may be involved. Occasionally, the tumors associated with this disease may become malignant, although this is not usually the case.


In most cases, there is no treatment required for Ollier disease. The enchondromas, or tumors made from cartilage, that occur with this disease do not usually cause any pain or discomfort. Significant growth defects or frequent fractures may indicate the need for surgical intervention. Hemangiomas are abnormal collections of blood vessels that may form in those with this disease, although they are usually benign and do not require medical treatment.

If an enchondroma becomes malignant, it is known as a chondrosarcoma. The most commonly used treatment method for this type of bone cancer is a surgical procedure known as a surgical resection. Depending on the individual situation, this may involve the partial or total amputation of the affected limb. If the surgeon is confident that the entire tumor can be safely removed during the surgical procedure, an attempt may be made to spare the limb and avoid amputation. Chemotherapy is not usually effective against this type of cancer, although radiation treatment may be used in an effort to make the surgical procedure more effective.



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