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B-cell Lymphoma in retrieved femoral heads: a long term follow up

Eline W Zwitser1, Arthur de Gast1, Mirjam JA Basie1, Folkert J van Kemenade2 and Barend J van Royen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Pathology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2009, 10:53  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-10-53

Published: 20 May 2009



A relatively high incidence of pathological conditions in retrieved femoral heads, including a group of patients having low grade B-cell lymphoma, has been described before. At short term follow up none of these patients with low-grade B-cell lymphoma showed evidence of systemic disease. However, the long term follow up of these patients is not known.


From November 1994 up to and including December 2005 we screened all femoral heads removed at the time of primary total hip replacement histopathologically and included them in the bone banking protocol according to the guidelines of the American Associations of Tissue Banks (AATB) and the European Association of Musculo-Skeletal Transplantation (EAMST). We determined the percentage of B-cell lymphoma in all femoral heads and in the group that fulfilled all criteria of the bone banking protocol and report on the long-term follow-up.


Of 852 femoral heads fourteen (1.6%) were highly suspicious for low-grade B-cell lymphoma. Of these 852 femoral heads, 504 were eligible for bone transplantation according to the guidelines of the AATB and the EAMST. Six femoral heads of this group of 504 were highly suspicious for low-grade B-cell lymphoma (1.2%). At long term follow up two (0.2%) of all patients developed systemic malignant disease and one of them needed medical treatment for her condition.


In routine histopathological screening we found variable numbers of low-grade B-cell lymphoma throughout the years, even in a group of femoral heads that were eligible for bone transplantation. Allogenic transmission of malignancy has not yet been reported on, but surviving viruses are proven to be transmissible. Therefore, we recommend the routine histopathological evaluation of all femoral heads removed at primary total hip arthroplasty as a tool for quality control, whether the femoral head is used for bone banking or not.