As simple as it sounds? The treatment of simple bone cysts in the proximal femur in children and adolescents: Retrospective multicenter EPOS study of 74 patients

the EPOS study group

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Purpose: Simple bone cysts are among the most prevalent benign cystic tumor-like lesions in children. Proximal femoral simple bone cysts may require specific treatment because of increased fracture risk. With limited literature available on this specific localization, consensus regarding optimal treatment is lacking. We present a large international multicenter retrospective cohort study on proximal femoral simple bone cysts. Methods: All consecutive pediatric patients with proximal femoral simple bone cyst from 10 tertiary referral centers for musculoskeletal oncology were included (2000–2021). Demographics, primary treatment, complications, and re-operations were evaluated. Primary outcomes were time until full weight-bearing and failure-free survival. Results: Overall, 74 simple bone cyst patients were included (median age 9 years (range = 2–16), 56 (76%) male). Median follow-up was 2.9 years (range = 0.5–21). Index procedure was watchful waiting (n = 6), percutaneous procedure (n = 12), open procedure (n = 50), or osteosynthesis alone (n = 6). Median time until full weight-bearing was 8 weeks (95% confidence interval = 0.1–15.9) for watchful waiting, 9.5 (95% confidence interval = 3.7–15.3) for percutaneous procedure, 11 (95% confidence interval = −0.7 to 13.7) for open procedure, and 6.5 (95% confidence interval = 5.9–16.1) for osteosynthesis alone (p = 0.58). Failure rates were 33%, 58%, 29%, and 0%, respectively (p = 0.069). Overall failurefree survival at 1, 2, and 5 years was 77.8% (95% confidence interval = 68.2–87.4), 69.5% (95% confidence interval = 58.5– 80.5), and 62.0% (95% confidence interval = 47.9–76.1), respectively. Conclusion: A preferred treatment for proximal femoral simple bone cysts remains unclear, with comparable failure rates and times until full weight-bearing. Watchful waiting may be successful in certain cases. If not feasible, osteosynthesis alone can be considered. Treatment goals should be cyst control, minimizing complications and swift return to normal activities. Therefore, an individualized balance should be made between undertreatment, with potentially higher complication risks versus overtreatment, resulting in possible larger interventions and accompanying complications. Level of evidence: Level IV, retrospective multicentre study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-95
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Children's Orthopaedics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • minimally invasive
  • simple bone cyst treatment
  • Simple bone cysts
  • unicameral bone cyst
  • weight-bearing


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