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Musculoskeletal System

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    Stem cell transplant

    A stem cell transplant can affect the bone and joints in different ways:

    • Total-body irradiation (TBI) given as part of a stem cell transplant may affect the body's ability to make growth hormone and cause short stature (being shorter than normal).
    • Osteochondroma (a benign tumor of the long bones) may form.
    • Chronic graft-versus-host disease may occur after a stem cell transplant and cause joint contractures (tightening of the muscles that causes the joint to shorten and become very stiff).

    Possible signs of bone and joint late effects include bone and joint pain.

    These symptoms may be caused by bone and joint late effects:

    • Swelling over a bone or bony part of the body.
    • Pain in a bone or joint.
    • Redness or warmth over a bone or joint.
    • Joint stiffness or trouble moving normally.
    • A bone that breaks for no known reason or breaks easily.
    • Short stature (being shorter than normal).
    • One side of the body looks higher than the other side or the body tilts to one side.
    • Always sitting or standing in a slouching position or having the appearance of a hunched back.

    Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. Talk to your child's doctor if your child has any of these problems.

    Certain tests and procedures are used to detect (find) and diagnose health problems in the bone and joint.

    These and other tests and procedures may be used to detect or diagnose bone and joint late effects:

    • Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient's health habits, past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
    • Bone mineral density scan: An imaging test that measures bone density (the amount of bone mineral in a certain amount of bone) by passing x-rays with two different energy levels through the bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis (weak or thin bones that can break easily). Also called BMD scan, DEXA, DEXA scan, dual energy x-ray absorptiometric scan, dual x-ray absorptiometry, and DXA.
    • X-ray: An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body, such as bones.

    Talk to your child's doctor about whether your child needs to have tests and procedures to check for signs of bone and joint late effects. If tests are needed, find out how often they should be done.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: February 25, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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