What is a synovectomy?

Synovial membrane surrounds the joints in our bodies and produces synovial fluid needed to lubricate the joints for comfort and ease of movement. As a result of inflammation, the synovial membrane can swell and overproduce synovial fluid. If this happens, a particular enzyme in the fluid can be counterproductive, eating away at the synovial membrane and making the joints vulnerable to pain and swelling. If the condition goes untreated, joint replacement surgery may be needed.

A synovectomy, or removal of the excess synovium, can help relieve symptoms and restore normal function to the joints when other methods of pain relief are not working.

The procedure is minimally invasive and may be performed on the knees, fingers, hips, wrists and elbows. Synovectomy is done arthroscopically through a small incision that allows the surgeon to use tiny instruments to remove the excess membrane. By minimizing the growth of the synovial membrane, the body is better able to respond to medication and its own healing ability.

After synovectomy, patients benefit from orthopaedic rehabilitation, including physical therapy and range-of-motion exercises. Repeat synovectomies may be needed.