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Soft Tissue Chondroma

Last updated Jan. 13, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP


Microscopic pathology image showing soft tissue chondroma.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Chondroma of Soft Parts
  • Extraskeletal Chondroma
  • Extraskeletal Fibrochondroma

What is Soft Tissue Chondroma? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Soft Tissue Chondroma is an infrequent benign tumor of the soft tissues, occurring in the vicinity of bones and joints. They are primarily composed of mature hyaline cartilages (flexible connective tissues having no blood vessels or nerves)
  • Middle-aged individuals are most prone to this disorder. The painless lesions appear as small, single lumps near joints and tendons; with the most common locations for these tumors being the fingers, followed by the limbs, head and neck region
  • A simple surgical excision is the treatment of choice

Who gets Soft Tissue Chondroma? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Soft Tissue Chondromas are mostly observed in the mid-adult phase of an individual (age between 30-60 years old); though, it is observed in a much wider age group, from infants to the very old
  • There is a slight predisposition towards the male sex, but there is no known ethnic/racial preference

What are the Risk Factors for Soft Tissue Chondroma? (Predisposing Factors)

Risk factors are currently unknown for Soft Tissue Chondroma.

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Soft Tissue Chondroma? (Etiology)

  • The exact cause and mechanism of Soft Tissue Chondroma formation, is unknown. They are thought to occur spontaneously
  • It is considered that the origin may be synovial (related to the fluid lubricating the joints), or due to developmental defects that involve abnormal tissue transformations

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Soft Tissue Chondroma?

The signs and symptoms of Soft Tissue Chondroma include:

  • The presentations are based on the location of the tumor; most tumors are asymptomatic
  • The solitary benign nodules may grow at a slow rate and regularly appear as painless, well-defined tumor mass with some tenderness
  • They may also cause reduced motion range and discomfort, especially if they are close to a joint
  • Chondroma of Soft Parts usually occurs in the fingers (almost 80% of the time), wrists, hands, and feet. Other sites where they have been noted, being the upper torso, head and neck region
  • There have been rare instances of chondromas being observed in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, fallopian tube, and brain

How is Soft Tissue Chondroma Diagnosed?

Soft Tissue Chondroma is diagnosed using the following tools:

  • Physical examination, with evaluation of patient’s medical history
  • Histopathological studies conducted on a biopsy specimen, by a pathologist
  • X-ray studies of the tumor
  • MRI scan

Differentiating Soft Tissue Chondroma from other similar kinds of cartilage or bone-related tumors (some malignant), is difficult. But,it is very important and necessary to distinguish it from a malignant tumor. This is a crucial step,which helps towards planning proper treatment measures for the tumor.

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Soft Tissue Chondroma?

Complications due to Soft Tissue Chondroma could include:

  • Deep-seated tumors (those buried in the body tissues), may create problems for adjoining tissues and organs by compressing them (mass effect of the tumor)
  • Damage to vital nerves, blood vessels, and surrounding structures during surgery

How is Soft Tissue Chondroma Treated?

Treatment measures for Soft Tissue Chondroma include the following:

  • If there are no symptoms, then non-operative measures are adopted. However, a periodic observation through regular follow-ups with a healthcare provider needs to be maintained. If there is any pain, it is controlled through pain medications
  • Any combination of steroids, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and invasive procedures may be used to treat Soft Tissue Chondromas
  • Wide surgical excision with removal of the entire lesion is the treatment mode normally employed. If the lesion is not fully removed, then it might recur
  • When the benign lesion is at an inaccessible location, or is unsafe for surgical intervention; non-invasive procedures are adopted. This also reduces the requirement of post-surgical reconstruction and cosmetic procedures, particularly if the tumors are on the face and neck region
  • Post-operative care is important with minimum activity level to be ensured, until the surgical wound heals. Also, post-operative follow-up care with regular screening and check-ups are important, especially to monitor for any recurrences

How can Soft Tissue Chondroma be Prevented?

  • Current medical research have not established a way of preventing Soft Tissue Chondroma occurrences
  • Regular medical screening at periodic intervals with blood tests, radiological scans, and physical examinations are mandatory, for those who have been diagnosed with the tumor

What is the Prognosis of Soft Tissue Chondroma? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • Prognosis is generally very good when the lesions are small, located just below the skin surface, and are completely excised. In such cases, their recurrence risk is also reduced significantly
  • The probability of Soft Tissue Chondroma recurrences is moderate at 15-20%, after surgical removal of the tumor. Hence, regular follow-up is required
  • Tumors with bone involvement, which is an extremely rare occurrence, have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. This is performed by a team of healthcare professionals. A definitive management protocol does not exist for cases with bone involvement

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Soft Tissue Chondroma:

  • Soft Tissue Chondroma is a rare and non-malignant tumor. There have been some cases that have indicated genetic abnormalities
  • Even though some tumors show chromosomal aberrations, no specific pattern of genes that are affected, has emerged. This lack of specific pattern of genetic mutations has prevented from obtaining any reasonable information, on their cause of occurrence and development

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Sept. 27, 2013
Last updated: Jan. 13, 2019