Cortical Desmoid of the Distal Femur : Incidentaloma or Insertional Tendinopathy?

Background: The cortical desmoid (DFCI) of the posteromedial femoral condyle is considered an asymptomatic incidental finding in adolescents without clinical relevance. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical relevance of DFCI from both a tumor orthopedic and sports medicine point of view.

Methods: n = 23 patients (13.74 ± 2.74 years; nineteen female, four male) with DFCI of the posteromedial femoral condyle were included. A localized posteromedial knee pain on exertion was differentiated from non-specific knee pain. Symptom duration, additional pathologies, number of MRIs, sports activity and training intensity, downtime, therapeutic modalities, and relief/remission of symptoms were documented. The Tegner activity scale (TAS) and Lysholm score (LS) were collected. The influence of specific posteromedial pain, MRI presence of paratendinous cysts, sports level as well as physiotherapy on downtime and LS/TAS was statistically analyzed.

Results: 100% reported knee symptoms at initial presentation. A localized posteromedial pain was documented in 52%. In 16/23 (70%) additional functional pathologies were diagnosed. Patients were physically highly active with high training intensities (6.52 ± 5.87 h/week) and performance level (65% competitive vs. 35% recreational). Patients underwent 1.91 ± 0.97 MRIs (max four). Symptom duration was 10.48 ± 11.02 weeks. A follow-up examination was performed after 12.62 ± 10.41 months (n = two lost to follow-up). 17/21 had physiotherapy, on average 17.06 ± 13.33 units. Overall downtime was 13.39 ± 12.50 weeks, the return-to-sports (RTS) rate 81%. 100%/38% reported a relief/remission of complaints. LS was 93.29 ± 7.95, median TAS before onset of knee complaints/at follow-up 7 (6–7)/7 (5–7). Specific posteromedial pain, presence of paratendinous cysts, sports level and physiotherapy had no significant influence on downtime and outcome parameters (n.s.).

Conclusions: DFCI as a pathognomonic finding is recurrently encountered in the MRIs of children and adolescents. This knowledge is essential to spare patients from overtreatment. Contrary to the literature, the present results implicate a clinical relevance of DFCI particularly in those who are physically highly active with localized pain on exertion. Structured physiotherapy as basic treatment is recommended.


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