Background: Aneurysmal bone cyst is a benign, locally destructive lesion of bone. The rates of local recurrence after curettage have varied widely. Therefore, we performed a retrospective study of patients who had had an aneurysmal bone cyst in order to identify the rate of local recurrence and the prognostic factors related to local recurrence after use of contemporary methods of curettage with a high-speed burr.Methods: We reviewed the cases of forty patients who had been managed by the same surgeon for an aneurysmal bone cyst, as diagnosed on the basis of the latest pathological review, between January 1, 1976, and December 31, 1993. The patients were evaluated with regard to age, gender, the duration and type of symptoms, the presence or absence of pathological fracture, the status of the growth plate, the bone and part of the bone that were involved, the type of operative procedure, the outcome, the radiographic stage, the findings on magnetic resonance imaging and computerized tomography (when it became available) and on bone scintigraphy, and histological parameters. The median duration of follow-up was eighty-seven months (range, fifteen to 267 months). According to the criteria of Enneking, no patient had a stage-1 lesion (one with a surrounding rim of cortical bone), twenty-four had a stage-2 lesion (one with a clearly defined border but no cortical bone), and sixteen had a stage-3 lesion (one with no clearly defined border).Results: Of the forty patients, thirty-four had curettage with use of a high-speed burr. Of these thirty-four, twenty-two had filling of the defect with a cancellous autogenous graft; four, with a cancellous allograft; and three, with polymethylmethacrylate. In five patients, no material was put into the defect. The remaining six patients had resection through the margin of the lesion.Four (12 percent) of the thirty-four patients who had curettage had a local recurrence. No patient who had an excision through the margin of the lesion had a local recurrence. All local recurrences were in skeletally immature girls who were three, four, ten, and eleven years old. Univariate analysis with use of the chi-square, Fisher exact, and Wilcoxon log-rank tests showed that local recurrence was associated only with a young age (p = 0.0036) and open growth plates (p = 0.039). All local recurrences occurred within two years postoperatively, at two, seven, nine, and twenty-four months, and all were treated successfully with a second operation.Conclusions: Rates of local control of almost 90 percent can be achieved with thorough curettage with use of a mechanical burr and without use of liquid nitrogen, phenol, or other adjuvants in patients who have an aneurysmal bone cyst of an extremity. A young age and open growth plates are associated with an increased risk of local recurrence.