Traumatic Heterotopic Ossification Clinical Presentation

Updated: Sep 09, 2021
  • Author: John B Wood, MBBS, FRCS(Edin), FRCS(Tr&Orth), FEBOT, Dip Sports Med (UNSW); Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
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History and Physical Examination

After arthroplasty, heterotopic ossification (HO) can be noted in either of the following two ways:

  • The condition can be a cause of physical symptoms, notably pain and stiffness
  • The condition may be entirely asymptomatic and may be detected radiologically on follow-up films

A person who has symptomatic HO may present with a loss of range of movement in the affected joint. This may coexist with pain and soft-tissue swelling. Differential diagnoses of this clinical picture would include the following:



HO may cause pain and stiffness. In turn, joint stiffness may cause further contractures. In severe cases, joint ankylosis may result. Nerve entrapment across joints also may be a complication of HO. Rare cases of HO undergoing malignant sarcomatous change have been reported.