Author: Tien Ming Lim, Dermatology Registrar, Greenlane Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand, 2012.
Osteoma cutis refers to bone formation within the skin. The bony tissue usually start in a focus of calcification, from an inflammatory scar or granuloma. Osteoma cutis is not cancerous.
Osteoma cutis is one variant of heterotopic bone formation, meaning bone that grows in soft tissue.
Osteoma cutis is rare and does not appear to have any particular racial or sexual predominance. It can occur at any age.
Osteomas are frequently small and unnoticed, as they usually occur deep in the dermis or in the subcutaneous tissue. If detected, they feel stone-hard. They may present as single or multiple tumours.
They can develop anywhere but the face, the extremities, the scalp, the digits and the subungual regions are the most commonly affected sites.
The exact reason for bone formation within the skin is not well understood. The process is called osteoblastic metaplasia and is due to dermal fibroblasts changing into the cells that form bone (osteoblasts).
Primary osteoma cutis, meaning it occurs without underlying cause, is rare. At least 80% of lesions are secondary to other conditions and syndromes.
|Inflammatory skin disease|
|Trauma / scar||
Calcinosis cutis differs from osteoma cutis as osteoma cutis represents bone formation whereas calcinosis cutis represents calcium salt deposits.
The diagnosis of osteoma cutis is usually made clinically, as the nodules are bony hard. However, osteoma cutis may be revealed by an X-ray, even when unnoticed by the affected individual.
Serum calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels can help in identifying Albright hereditary osteodystrophy.
If removed surgically, the biopsy will reveal bone within the skin or fatty tissue.
The bony nodule may be cut out (excised) or removed by laser ablation, if causing symptoms.
See the DermNet NZ bookstore
© 2018 DermNet New Zealand Trust.
DermNet NZ does not provide an online consultation service. If you have any concerns with your skin or its treatment, see a dermatologist for advice.