Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > 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
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
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
Synovectomy does not cure the
disease. But it may relieve symptoms temporarily.footnote 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.
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
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Ekwall AKH, Firestein GS (2014). Rheumatoid arthritis: Treatment. In EG Nabel et al., eds., Scientific American Medicine, chap. 1032. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker. https://www.deckerip.com/decker/scientific-american-medicine/chapter/1032/pdf. Accessed December 15, 2016.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerNancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Current as ofOctober 10, 2017
Current as of:
October 10, 2017
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
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