The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

An Unusual Case of a Solitary Osteochondroma on the Mandibular Symphysis


Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University

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Osteochondroma is a neoplasm caused by faulty ossification of the growth plate resulting in an outgrowth of cortical and trabecular bone continuous with the parent bone and capped with hyaline cartilage. Osteochondroma is the most common benign bone tumor, primarily afflicting femoral metaphyses. This case study describes a basketball-sized, isolated, sessile osteochondroma on the mandible of 30-34 year old female from the Late Prehistoric (1490 B.P. ± 70) Buffalo site, West Virginia. There are only a handful of archaeological cases of osteochondroma reported, all postcranial and Old World, and only 50 modern clinical cases reported in the mandible. The uniqueness of this case adds to knowledge of neoplastic lesions in antiquity, health in the prehistoric New World, and comparative material aiding future diagnoses.

The spherical tumor extends from the right hemi-mandible, measuring 24 cm in diameter. The primary center of the neoplasm appears to expand from the mandibular symphysis. The afflicted side is grossly deformed with the alveolar and teeth displaced, extending infero-laterally to the gonial angle of the left hemi-mandible. Macroscopic and roentgenographic examination reveals the outer cortical surface and inner trabecular architecture of the tumor is continuous with the mandible. The cortex is smooth, irregular, and lobulated, reminiscent of the expected hyaline texture in life. These characteristics are pathognomonic of osteochondroma, especially since most clinical cases of mandibular osteochondroma are reported in females around age 40. The etiology and mechanical disability imparted by this tumor, as well as differential diagnoses of aggressive ostoblastoma and osteosarcoma, are discussed.

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