Synovectomy for rheumatoid arthritis

Surgery Overview

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 arthroscopy.

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 the incisions.

Following knee synovectomy, your knee will be immobilized in a removable cast, and physical therapy is started after 1 to 2 days.

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 drugs (DMARDs).

How Well It Works

Synovectomy does not cure the disease, but it may relieve symptoms temporarily.1

Risks

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 medication, including DMARDs or corticosteroid injections. It may provide only temporary relief.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

References

Citations

  1. Lipsky PE (2008). Rheumatoid arthritis. In AS Fauci et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2083–2092. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Last Updated: August 18, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.