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What Is Tumoral Calcinosis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2014
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Tumoral calcinosis is a condition where deposits of calcium form under the skin and cannot be cleared by the body. It is not painful initially, but can lead to complications and may require surgical treatment. This issue tends to be most common in people of African descent, and is relatively rare. Patients may need to see a specialist to get information on the latest treatment options.

In cases of tumoral calcinosis, small buildups of calcium occur over time in the soft tissue. It often centers above a joint and occurs most commonly in the hip. Sometimes the tumoral calcinosis forms around a lesion like a tumor. The patient may notice a painless lump or nodule and could experience more limited range of motion as a result of calcification in the soft tissue. There is a potential for it to ossify, or turn into bone over time.

Diagnostic testing for tumoral calcinosis usually involves x-ray imaging. The calcium deposit will show up as a cloud of varying intensity on the x-ray, depending on density and size. A radiologist can evaluate it to determine the extent of the lesion and confirm that it is a calcinosis. After reviewing the films, the radiologist can also offer an informed opinion on how the growth might progress, and whether intervention is necessary. These medical professionals have extensive experience with bone and joint disorders and may work with an orthopedic doctor on the patient's care.

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One option for tumoral calcinosis treatment is to leave the growth alone and monitor it. If the patient experiences complications, the growth can be revisited to determine if treatment is necessary or advisable. In other cases, a physician may recommend surgery to cut out the calcification. The doctor may feel this is necessary because of the size or location, or if the patient experiences complications like pain or infections related to the growth.

The causes of this condition are poorly understood. There appears to be a genetic component; people of African descent are overall more likely to get the condition, especially if they have a family history. Sometimes it is associated with an underlying associated disease or has iatrogenic causes, where something a doctor does, like a surgery, causes the condition. When patients appear to have tumoral calcinosis, the doctor may collect some information to help with the case and add to the body of knowledge about the origins of this condition.

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