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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ribbing disease (multiple diaphyseal sclerosis): imaging and differential diagnosis.

  • Author(s): Seeger, LL
  • Hewel, KC
  • Yao, L
  • Gold, RH
  • Mirra, JM
  • Chandnani, VP
  • Eckardt, JJ
  • et al.

OBJECTIVE: This study describes the clinical presentation and the course of Ribbing disease in six patients and illustrates imaging features on plain radiography, conventional and computed tomography, and 99mTc-methylene diphosphonate bone scans. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between 1982 and 1990, six female patients presented with painful bony lesions that were believed to be Ribbing disease. Ten bones were affected: both tibiae in three patients, a unilateral tibia in one, both femora in one, and a unilateral femur in one. Plain radiographs and either conventional or computed tomography were available for all patients and 99mTc-methylene diphosphonate bone scans, for five patients. All patients underwent open biopsy and/or surgical decompression. RESULTS: The diagnosis was reached in all patients through a combination of clinical findings (lack of systemic signs of infection or laboratory values suggesting metabolic bone disease), imaging, histologic evaluation, and specimen cultures. Radiographs and tomographic studies showed benign-appearing endosteal and periosteal cortical thickening. Intense uptake of radionuclide tracer was confined to the shaft of all involved bones. All pathologic specimens revealed nonspecific changes that included a slow increase in the mass of cortical and endosteal bone. These specimens also assisted in excluding neoplastic or infectious causes for the new bone formation. CONCLUSION: Ribbing disease is a rare disorder that, on imaging studies, may simulate stress fracture, chronic infection, bone-forming neoplasia, or a systemic metabolic or endocrine disorder. Clinical and imaging features may suggest the correct diagnosis.

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