Examination of the patient with a musculoskeletal tumour

Examination of the patient with a musculoskeletal tumour differs a little from a routine examination of a limb. The aim is to look for findings which support your diagnosis.

When examining a mass, you should consider the following:

  • site
  • size
  • depth (superficial to deep fascia or involving/deep to it)
  • shape and surfaces
  • fluctuance
  • pulsatility
  • tethering of overlying skin
  • draining lymph nodes
Associated features might include:
  • lymphoedema
  • involvement of neurovascular structures
  • signs of malignancy elsewhere (eg abdominal masses)
  • involvement of an adjacent joint
  • other masses elsewhere (eg hereditary multiple exostoses)