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

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

References

Citations

  1. Firestein GS (2010). Rheumatoid arthritis. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 15, chap. 2. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Current as of June 4, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated 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. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker