Journal of Cytology

: 2014  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 233--235

Fine needle aspiration cytology of chondroblastoma of the fibula

Kamal Malukani, Shirish S Nandedkar, Prashant Yeshwante, Preeti Rihal 
 Department of Pathology, Sri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Sciences, Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Kamal Malukani
31 Katju Colony, Indore - 452 004, Madhya Pradesh


Chondroblastoma is a rare benign cartilaginous tumor typically seen in long bones, especially femur, tibia and proximal humerus. Extracortical soft tissue invasion or metastasis is rarely seen. We report here a unique case of chondroblastoma of the fibula with extracortical soft tissue invasion. Differential diagnosis on cytology is discussed.

How to cite this article:
Malukani K, Nandedkar SS, Yeshwante P, Rihal P. Fine needle aspiration cytology of chondroblastoma of the fibula.J Cytol 2014;31:233-235

How to cite this URL:
Malukani K, Nandedkar SS, Yeshwante P, Rihal P. Fine needle aspiration cytology of chondroblastoma of the fibula. J Cytol [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Apr 6 ];31:233-235
Available from:

Full Text


Chondroblastoma is a rare tumor entity that comprises approximately 1% of all benign bone tumors. [1] In up to 95% cases, it occurs in the second decade of life with a male:female ratio of 2:1. [2] The most frequent localizations of chondroblastoma are epiphyses of long bones (proximal humerus, proximal femur, distal femur and proximal tibia). Patella, pelvis, fibula, small bones of hands and feet, ribs, skull, mandible, maxillae, vertebrae, scapulae and sternum are considered as atypical localizations. Although fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is gaining acceptance as very convenient and reliable method for the rapid diagnosis of bone lesions, very few cases of chondroblastoma diagnosed on cytology have been reported in the literature.

 Case Report

An 18-year-old-female presented with pain in left leg for last 1-month and progressively increasing swelling around the knee joint for last 15 days. There was no history of trauma. On examination, the patient had restricted left knee joint movements with tenderness. Radiograph showed a lytic lesion in the head and upper shaft of the fibula.

Various investigations like routine blood and urine examination, serum acid and alkaline phosphatase, serum calcium and phosphorus were within normal limits.

Magnetic resonance imaging of leg showed abnormal marrow infiltration in medullary cavity of head and upper shaft of fibula hypo-intense on T1-weighted T2-weighted sequences and hypo-to hyper-intense on short tau inversion recovery (STIR) sequence, the vertical length being 8 cm approximately. There was cortical destruction with extra-osseous extension of abnormal marrow signals abutting soft tissue and musculature namely peroneal, extensor digitorum longus, flexor hallucis longus, tibialis anterior and posterior, and soleus muscle. The extra-osseous component was large and measured 7.3 cm × 4.7 cm approximately. Tibialis anterior vessels and deep peroneal nerve were encased. Tibia and femur were normal [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

The FNAC smears, stained with giemsa stain, showed neoplastic mononucleated and binucleated chondroblasts, multinucleated osteoclast-like giant cells, and chondromyxoid matrix fragments representing early cartilage in hemorrhagic background. The chondroblasts were distributed singly in smears, had round to oval nuclei with indentation and lobulation, and fine evenly distributed chromatin. Their cytoplasm was dense with rounded well-defined borders. Many binucleated forms were also present along with multinucleated osteoclast-like giant cells. The giant cells were indistinguishable from those seen in other bone neoplasms [[Figure 2]a and c]. Characteristic magenta colored fragments of chondroid matrix were seen [[Figure 2]b]. Diagnosis of chondroblastoma was made on cytology.{Figure 2}

Subsequent intralesional curetting was done with bone autografting. Histopathology revealed tumor composed of sheets of polyhedral chondroblasts with round to ovoid, indented and lobulated nuclei and thick sharply defined cell membrane. At places, multinucleated giant cells were seen. Thin network (chicken-wire like) to dense obvious deposits of calcification was evident. Histopathology confirmed the diagnosis of chondroblastoma. There was no recurrence observed on 2-year follow-up of the case.


Chondroblastoma was first described by Codman in 1931, who designated it as "epiphyseal chondromatous giant cell tumor". [3] Jaffe and Lichtenstein in 1942 differentiated chondroblastoma from giant cell tumor and established the term "benign chondroblastoma". [4] Very few cases with extracortical soft tissue invasion or metastasis are reported. [5] Atypical cases of chondroblastoma are reported, especially in older patients, tend to involve unusual sites and have a greater tendency to expand the affected bone. [1] The present case was a young female having atypical localization (fibula) of chondroblastoma with extracortical soft tissue invasion.

The histological diagnosis of typical chondroblastoma is not difficult due to their characteristic appearance with rounded or polygonal chondroblasts, multinucleated giant cells and eosinophilic chondroid extracellular matrix with focal chicken-wire calcification. [6]

Although aspiration cytology is very convenient and reliable method for the rapid diagnosis of bone lesions, the failure rate is high. High failure rate of aspiration cytology in bone tumors is mainly due to the hardness and fibrous nature of the tumors and if they are guarded by thick cortex leading to difficulty in piercing the needle. [7]

Many times, chondroblastoma is mistaken as giant cell tumor on aspiration cytology. FNAC of giant cell tumor also shows two population of cells; dominant histiocytoid mononuclear cells and multinucleated giant cells. Presence of chondroid matrix is believed to be the decisive feature to differentiate chondroblastoma from giant cell tumor, which is seen better in Giemsa-stained smears than in Papanicolaou-stained smears. [8] Also, mononuclear cells in chondroblastoma have irregular ridged nuclei with longitudinal clefts, while, in giant cell tumor, the cells resemble histiocytes with nuclei similar to those of the giant cells. [9] In difficult cases, the demonstration of S100 positivity in chondroblasts is helpful. [10]

Another entity to differentiate from chondroblastoma is Langerhan's cell histiocytosis (LCH). Cytologically histiocytes of LCH are like chondroblasts of chondroblastoma but not associated with any type of matrix production. [1]


Fine needle aspiration cytology provides a simple, quick, easy and reliable method of preoperative diagnosis of chondroblastoma and can be used as a substitute of surgical biopsy. The cytologic features of the chondroblasts and chondroid matrix are the diagnostic hallmarks of chondroblastoma.


1Kirchhoff C, Buhmann S, Mussack T, Müller-Höcker J, Schmitt-Sody M, Jansson V, et al. Aggressive scapular chondroblastoma with secondary metastasis: A case report and review of literature. Eur J Med Res 2006;11:128-34.
2Schajowicz F, Gallardo H. Epiphysial chondroblastoma of bone. A clinico-pathological study of sixty-nine cases. J Bone Joint Surg Br 1970;52:205-26.
3Codman EA. Epiphyseal chondromatous giant cell tumors of the upper end of the humerus. Surg Gynecol Obstet 1931;52:543-8.
4Jaffe HL, Lichtenstein L. Benign Chondroblastoma of Bone: A Reinterpretation of the so-called calcifying or chondromatous giant cell tumor. Am J Pathol 1942;18:969-91.
5Harish K, Janaki MG, Alva NK. "Primary" aggressive chondroblastoma of the humerus: A case report. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2004;5:9.
6Coleman SS. Benign chondroblastoma with recurrent soft-tissue and intra-articular lesions. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1966;48:1554-60.
7Sherwani R, Akhtar K, Abrari A, Sherwani K, Goel S, Zaheer S. Fine needle aspiration cytology in the management of tumors and tumor like lesions of bone. JK Sci 2006;8:151-6.
8Pohar-Marinsek Z, Us-Krasovec M, Lamovec J. Chondrobastoma in fine needle aspirates. Arch Putti Chir Organi Mov 1990;38:363-70.
9Brien EW, Mirra JM, Kerr R. Benign and malignant cartilage tumors of bone and joint: Their anatomic and theoretical basis with an emphasis on radiology, pathology and clinical biology. I. The intramedullary cartilage tumors. Skeletal Radiol 1997;26:325-53.
10Ushigome S, Takakuwa T, Shinagawa T, Takagi M, Kishimoto H, Mori N. Ultrastructure of cartilaginous tumors and S-100 protein in the tumors. With reference to the histogenesis of chondroblastoma, chondromyxoid fibroma and mesenchymal chondrosarcoma. Acta Pathol Jpn 1984;34:1285-300.