Background: Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva is a rare autosomal dominant disorder characterized by congenital malformation of the great toes and by progressive heterotopic ossification of skeletal muscle and soft connective tissues. The disorder is caused by a recurrent missense mutation in the glycine-serine activation domain of activin A receptor type I, a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type-I receptor, in all classically affected individuals. Osteochondromas of the proximal part of the tibia are benign osteochondral neoplasms or orthotopic lesions of skeletal remodeling associated with dysregulated BMP signaling and have been considered an atypical feature of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, but they may be underdiagnosed because of their often asymptomatic nature. The purpose of the present study was to determine the prevalence and characteristics of proximal tibial osteochondromas in individuals who have fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva.
Methods: Over a period of thirty months, we evaluated all patients with new and established fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva for the presence of proximal tibial osteochondromas on the basis of medical history, physical examination, and radiographic studies. We quantified the prevalence of osteochondromas and characterized the types of osteochondromas to identify relevant trends.
Results: Ninety-six patients (including fifty-two female patients and forty-four male patients) with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva were evaluated on the basis of a history and physical examination. Plain radiographs were available for sixty-seven patients. Ninety percent of all patients had osteochondroma of the proximal part of the tibia. These lesions usually were asymptomatic, most commonly were bilateral, and typically were located at the pes anserinus. Seventy-five percent of the lesions were pedunculated, and 25% were sessile.
Conclusions: Proximal tibial osteochondromas are a common phenotypic feature of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, a finding that expands the recognized consequences of recurrent activating mutations in activin A receptor type I to include not only congenital skeletal malformations and heterotopic skeletogenesis but also benign osteochondral neoplasms or orthotopic lesions of skeletal modeling. The present study provides insight into the genetic basis of osteochondroma formation in patients with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva and possibly into that of more common conditions in which these lesions occur.