TIO: The bone-breaking tumor


David Covington was breaking every bone in his body and doctors had no idea what was causing it.

2 years ago, David Covington didn’t think his back pain and general weakness would turn into him needing a cane at 27. He even had a hard time with household chores.

“I couldn’t get the lawnmower started and it was just a pull and I wasn’t strong enough to pull it on,” said Covington.

Doctors did a full body scan on David and found he had several stress fractures throughout his body.

“That was kind of where I really felt that ‘oh maybe this is something more serious than just back pain,'” said Covington.

After two orthopedists, a rheumatologist, and months of treatments, David’s condition worsened and he became so weak that he was falling. Then an endocrinologist at Vanderbilt university said a tumor in his brain may be the culprit.

Reid Thompson, MD, Professor of Neurological Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, “A rare problem called Tio, which stands for tumor-induced osteomalacia, so tumors causing breakdown of bone.”

David was referred to Neurosurgeon Reid Thompson who at first thought it was a benign tumor.

Doctor Thompson said, “If you ask most neurosurgeons who specialize in brain tumors what it is that you have, they would say it’s a benign tumor, nothing to worry about.”

But a quick search about TIO changed his mind.

“We really had to do that operation, because it was a chance to actually cure him of this disease which was ravishing his body,” said Doctor Thompson.

After the surgery and about a month of physical therapy, David felt back to normal.

David said, “It would take about five minutes to get from my car to the front door. Now it takes about 15 seconds.”

And 2 months after surgery, David was back in his classroom teaching, pain-free.

Doctors say David’s case of TIO was even more rare because of its location.

Most of those tumors are normally found in the hands, feet, or nasal cavities.

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