Horns

When I was a resident doing a rotation at a pediatric orthopedics clinic, one of our patients was a day-old boy. His mother, wrapped in a blue hospital gown, was wheeled over from the adjoining maternity hospital with the bundled newborn on her lap.

The medical students summoned me fifteen minutes into their assessment, stymied. The mother retold her story: "They sent me over because he has two bumps on his forehead." The babe did indeed have two subtle protrusions above his eyes. On palpation they were smooth, bony and even in size. I was stumped. The junior and then senior orthopedic residents were consulted, and were similarly mystified.

Finally the orthopedic surgeon himself swept into the room. He made a swift diagnosis. "Anterior horns," he announced. The students and residents were impressed.

"Horns?" repeated the child's mother incredulously.

"Yes. Horns. These are bony growths that will likely continue to grow throughout childhood," explained the doctor cheerfully. He went on to reassure her, "When he's a teenager, he could consider having them surgically removed. But as a fifteen-year-old boy, he might very well be quite pleased to have them."