Cortical desmoid

Cortical desmoids, also known as cortical avulsive injuries or the Bufkin lesion, are a benign self-limiting entity. This is a classic "do not touch" lesion, and should not be confused with an aggressive cortical/periosteal process (e.g. osteosarcoma). 

Cortical desmoid is a misnomer as this lesion does not histologically correlate to true desmoid tumors.

It typically presents in adolescents (10-15 years of age). There may be a male predilection. 

Patients are usually asymptomatic, and it is discovered incidentally. Occasionally pain may be present.

It is related to repetitive stress at the attachment of the medial head of gastrocnemius or distal adductor magnus at the posterior medial aspect of the distal femoral metaphysis.

Cortical desmoids are classically seen at the posteromedial aspect of the distal femur. They can be bilateral in approximately one-third of cases.

Occasionally similar lesions have been described involving the humerus - medially at the insertion of the pectoralis major muscle or laterally at the insertion of the deltoid 9.

Typically shows a saucer-shaped radiolucent cortical irregularity involving the posteromedial aspect of the distal femoral metaphysis at the attachment of the adductor magnus tendon. The lesion lacks an outer margin.

Defines anatomy much better and is seen as a cortically based lesion in the expected location (i.e. posteromedial distal femoral metaphysis) 3,4:

  • T1: low signal
  • T2: high signal and surrounding low signal rim may be present
  • T1 C+ (Gd): most show enhancement

On bone scan, there is an abnormal increase in activity because of the chronic stress/traumatic origin of this lesion.

Imaging differential considerations include:

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Article information

rID: 5198
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Distal femoral cortical irregularity
  • Distal femoral cortical irregularity (DFCI)
  • Avulsive cortical irregularity of the distal femur
  • Distal femoral cortical defect
  • Periosteal desmoid
  • Cortical desmoids
  • Bufkin lesion

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Cases and figures

  • AP femur X-ray
    Case 1: with concurrent healing fibrocortical defect
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  • Axial T2 of the l...
    Case 2
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4
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  • Case 5
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  • Case 6
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