Eosinophilic granuloma is a rare, noncancerous tumor that shows up in the bone. The condition involves the overproduction of specific immune cells in the body.

The exact cause of eosinophilic granuloma is not clear, and treatment can vary widely.

For some people, the condition may require only mild treatment. However, it may spread to other bones or even the lymph nodes and require more extensive treatment.

Some people with eosinophilic granuloma may not need treatment at all, and doctors can help a person manage pain.

In this article, we examine eosinophilic granuloma and the symptoms and causes of the condition. We also look at the diagnosis and treatment of eosinophilic granuloma.

man having CT scan to diagnose Eosinophilic granulomaShare on Pinterest
A CT scan can help a doctor diagnose eosinophilic granuloma.

Eosinophilic granuloma is a noncancerous growth of the bone. It is part of a rare set of conditions that doctors call Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH).

These conditions stem from an overproduction of histiocytes, which are a type of white blood cell.

When a person produces too many histiocytes, the cells may start attacking the body’s healthy systems. This can lead to disorders and lesions, such as eosinophilic granuloma.

Eosinophilic granuloma is rare. Research published in the Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology notes that Eosinophilic granuloma makes up less than 1% of all bone tumors.

Eosinophilic granuloma is most common in children and adolescents who make up 80% of cases. With this said, eosinophilic granuloma may occur at any age.

The growth is most common in the skull, though eosinophilic granuloma can occur anywhere in the body.

Other common bones where eosinophilic granuloma may develop include the following:

  • jaw
  • ribs
  • spine
  • bones in the arms or legs

Eosinophilic granuloma is the name for lesions or growths that occur in one or just a few spots. Sometimes, these lesions may impact other tissues, for example, if they grow into the nerves, lymph, or organs.

Researchers are not exactly sure what causes eosinophilic granuloma. There may be a link to genetics in some people.

According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, genetic mutations within genes in the Langerhans cells are present in about 50% of eosinophilic granuloma cases.

Importantly, people do not inherit these mutations, and they cannot pass them on to future generations.

Other disorders, including autoimmune diseases, inflammation, and other types of LCH, may contribute to eosinophilic granuloma risk.

Additionally, trauma to the area, such as falling and hitting the head, may also contribute to the risk in people who are prone to eosinophilic granuloma or LCH. The exact role trauma plays in eosinophilic granuloma occurring is unclear.

The most noticeable symptom of eosinophilic granuloma is a growing mass that is tender and painful to the touch. However, in some people with eosinophilic granuloma, the individual may not notice any such growth.

Eosinophilic granuloma may also cause other symptoms, such as:

  • headache
  • fever
  • neck or back pain
  • unexplained rashes or redness on the skin
  • limited range of motion in the area
  • inability to bear weight

Other symptoms are also possible, especially if the tumor is growing into other tissues or putting pressure on nerves.

Diagnosing eosinophilic granuloma typically involves laboratory and imaging tests to check for markers of the tumor and eliminate other possibilities.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays or CT scans, may help doctors identify the growth.

However, several other conditions may produce similar results with imaging tests, and so doctors will need to do a biopsy to confirm the tumor.

Tissue biopsy involves taking a piece of the growth tissue and testing it for specific markers of the condition. Doctors will recommend a tissue biopsy to confirm their diagnosis.

For some people with eosinophilic granuloma, the growth and associated symptoms clear up without treatment. There is no set time for this, and some people may deal with lingering symptoms longer than others.

Doctors may prescribe corticosteroid injections, such as methylprednisolone (Medrol), to help relieve pain and inflammation.

In more severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery to remove the tumor. Surgery may be necessary if the tumor is growing or pushing against other organs or nerves and could cause serious complications.

Some doctors may recommend using radiation therapy or systemic therapies, such as chemotherapy, to treat eosinophilic granuloma, especially if the tumor involves other organs or puts the spine or other nerves at risk.

All treatments carry their own risk of side effects and complications. Anyone worried about these side effects should talk to their doctor before starting treatment.

While recurrence is always possible, many cases of eosinophilic granuloma do not come back.

Research suggests that the condition has a recurrence rate of less than 20%, meaning that tumors do not come back in over 80% of cases of eosinophilic granuloma.

There are possible complications from eosinophilic granuloma.

While it does not occur in all cases, eosinophilic granuloma can spread to other bones or even the lymph nodes.

Large tumors or tumors that press between bones may lead to bone fracture. Tumors in the spine may increase the chances of having collapsed vertebrae or other issues from putting pressure on the spinal column.

Early treatment may help prevent these complications.

Eosinophilic granuloma is a rare condition that mainly affects children. It can be painful and may cause other symptoms, depending on where the tumor grows.

Treatment with steroid injections or other methods may help with the pain. In some cases, the tumor resolves on its own without treatment, though large or problematic tumors may require surgery.

Anyone noticing troubling symptoms should see their doctor for a thorough diagnosis. People with eosinophilic granuloma that are having trouble dealing with their symptoms should speak to a doctor about treatment alternatives.