Open Access Research article

Incidence, histopathologic analysis and distribution of tumours of the hand

Maciej JK Simon1, Pia Pogoda1, Felix Hövelborn1, Matthias Krause1, Jozef Zustin2, Michael Amling1* and Florian Barvencik1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Osteology and Biomechanics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany

2 Institute of Pathology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:182  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-182

Published: 28 May 2014



The aim of this large collective and meticulous study of primary bone tumours and tumourous lesions of the hand was to enhance the knowledge about findings of traumatological radiographs and improve differential diagnosis.


This retrospective study reviewed data collected from 1976 until 2006 in our Bone Tumour Registry. The following data was documented: age, sex, radiological investigations, tumour location, histopathological features including type and dignity of the tumour, and diagnosis.


The retrospective analysis yielded 631 patients with a mean age of 35.9 ± 19.2 years. The majority of primary hand tumours were found in the phalanges (69.7%) followed by 24.7% in metacarpals and 5.6% in the carpals. Only 10.6% of all cases were malignant. The major lesion type was cartilage derived at 69.1%, followed by bone cysts 11.3% and osteogenic tumours 8.7%. The dominant tissue type found in phalanges and metacarpals was of cartilage origin. Osteogenic tumours were predominant in carpal bones. Enchondroma was the most commonly detected tumour in the hand (47.1%).


All primary skeletal tumours can be found in the hand and are most often of cartilage origin followed by bone cysts and osteogenic tumours. This study furthermore raises awareness about uncommon or rare tumours and helps clinicians to establish proper differential diagnosis, as the majority of detected tumours of the hand are asymptomatic and accidental findings on radiographs.

Hand; Tumours; Histopathology; Incidence; Radiography