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Report of Rare Gorham's Disease

Posted on: 11/30/1999
In this case report, a 73-year-old woman with Gorham's disease is described. Gorham's disease is also known as the vanishing or disappearing bone disease or the phantom bone disease.

It is a massive destruction or osteolysis of bone. The condition may have a genetic basis but this has not been proven yet. Usually only one bone is affected. However, the process can spread to nearby soft tissues and adjacent bones.

The bones affected most often are in the pelvis, shoulder, or jaw. Ribs, spine, and skull can also be involved. This patient had severe and constant left hip pain. Her left leg was one centimeter shorter than the right. She had a significant loss of motion and limped when walking.

Surgery to replace the hip joint was planned. An X-ray showed massive osteolysis so the operation was cancelled. Further testing with CT scans and MRIs helped identify the disease.

Her condition was made worse by an infection that developed while she was in the hospital. IV and oral antibiotics were used to take care of the infection. Bone osteolysis continued to progress. Once the infection was under control, then the hip replacement was rescheduled.

At the time of operation, the surgeons saw degeneration of the hip muscles. One muscle was even partially torn. The hip capsule was thickened. The head of the femur (thigh bone) was completely destroyed.

The total hip replacement (THR) was a success. Everything healed well and her function was restored. She could walk normally and did not have any pain. Final X-rays shows no further signs of osteolysis.

Panagiotis Stavlas, MD, et al. Massive Osteolysis of the Hip: Gorham's Disease. In Orthopedics. December 2007. Vol. 30. No. 12. Pp. 1059-1060.

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