Synovectomy surgery refers to the surgical removal of the membrane that lines a joint which is causing unacceptable pain or is limiting your ability to function. There are various disorders that are indications for synovectomy. Among them are chronic inflammatory arthritis (eg, rheumatoid arthritis), benign tumors (eg, osteochondromatosis, pigmented villonodular synovitis), and recurrent bleeding in the knee (eg, hemophilia).
This surgery can be done either by open incision or through the arthroscope. Arthroscopic synovectomy has a lot of advantages over open synovectomy including short hospital stay, decreased postoperative joint pain and stiffness, and more complete synovectomy.
This is done through small (5 mm) incisions or portals. A small diameter arthroscope is used with a motorized shaver inserted through these portals.
Synovectomy can yield dramatic improvement in function and pain relief, with patients whose articular cartilage is largely intact having the best results. Surgical synovectomy is associated with a low complication rate. Post-operative stiffness is treated with physical therapy and range of motion exercises. Stiffness is more likely to occur after open surgery than with arthroscopy.