Discusses synovectomy, surgery done to remove inflamed joint tissue resulting from rheumatoid arthritis. Covers why it's done and what to expect after surgery, including a need for physical therapy. Also covers how well it works and risks.
Synovectomy for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Synovectomy surgery is done to remove
inflamed joint tissue (synovium) that is causing unacceptable pain or is
limiting your ability to function or your range of motion. Ligaments and other
structures may be moved aside to access and remove the inflamed joint lining.
The procedure may be done using
What To Expect After Surgery
As soon as possible after surgery, a
physical therapist will teach you how and when to move
the joint. Recovery depends on the surgical technique used and the location of
Following knee synovectomy, your knee will be
immobilized in a removable cast. And physical therapy is started after 1 to 2
Why It Is Done
Synovectomy may be used to treat
joints affected by
rheumatoid arthritis that have minimal bone or
cartilage destruction when medicine has not relieved pain.
Synovectomy may be considered if significant pain persists after 6 to 12
months of drug treatment, including the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic
How Well It Works
Synovectomy does not cure the
disease. But it may relieve symptoms temporarily.1
Risks of synovectomy include the risks of
surgery and using
anesthesia and a slight risk of infection and bleeding
within the joint.
There may also be a loss in the range of motion
of the joint, or the inflammation in the joint may return.
What To Think About
Synovectomy is a useful treatment
option for early rheumatoid arthritis that has not improved with medicine,
including DMARDs or corticosteroid injections. It may provide only temporary
Firestein GS (2010). Rheumatoid arthritis. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 15, chap. 2. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.