Osteophyte

Osteophytes are cartilage-capped bony proliferations (spurs) that most commonly develop at the margins of a synovial joint as a response to articular cartilage damage, as seen very commonly in degenerative joint disease. Central osteophytes can develop from cartilage lesions within a joint. They are considered a hallmark of osteoarthritis and can be confused with syndesmophytes and enthesophytes.

Terminology

Small osteophytes are sometimes referred to as osteophytic lipping.

Clinical presentation

Aside from the manifestations of osteoarthritis, osteophytes can:

Pathology

Currently, it is unknown if osteophytes are a functional adaptation to joint disease or a pathological phenomenon in their own right .

Hooked osteophytes can be seen in CPPD and hemochromatosis-associated arthropathy.

Differential diagnosis

  • syndesmophyte: paravertebral ossifications that run parallel with the spine cf. osteophytes which typically protrude perpendicular to the spine
  • enthesophyte: located at an attachment of a ligament or tendon, not associated with a joint