Causes of heterotopic ossification

The causes of non-genetic heterotopic ossification are unknown, however, it often develops after an injury such as a bone fracture or spine injury. It sometimes occurs after joint replacement surgery, e.g. hip replacement surgery.

Genetic heterotopic ossification is far less common and typically affects the spine, hands and feet.

Treatment of heterotopic ossification

Rather than treating heterotopic ossification after it has occurred, we offer pre-operative radiotherapy treatments to patients about to undergo surgery which has a 90% success rate of completely preventing any HO after the operation.

Heterotopic ossification prevention consists of two appointments:

  • A meeting with a consultant, who will explain the procedure and evaluate any available diagnostic scans or x-rays, before taking a special CT planning scan to assist in the calculation of radiotherapy dosage and location. At this time the radiographers will put a permanent reference mark on the skin, which is a tattoo mark the size of a freckle. All our radiotherapy calculations are done at this visit.
  • An appointment on the morning of the operation to administer the radiotherapy treatment, which takes just a few minutes.

Once treatment is complete, patients can proceed to hospital for their surgery. For the best possible result, the operation should take place within 4-6 hours of the heterotopic ossification treatment.