Synovitis and synovectomy in haemophilia

Lize F D van Vulpen, Sylvia Thomas, Swapnil A Keny, Shubhranshu S Mohanty

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Joint bleeds cause major morbidity in haemophilia patients. The synovial tissue is responsible for removal of blood remnants from the joint cavity. But blood components, especially iron, lead to a series of changes in the synovial tissue: inflammation, proliferation and neovascularization. These changes make the synovium vulnerable to subsequent bleeding and as such a vicious cycle of bleeding-synovitis-bleeding may develop leading to chronic synovitis. The initial step in the treatment is adequate clotting factor supplementation and immediate physiotherapeutic involvement. If these measures fail, synovectomy may be indicated. Non-surgical options are chemical and radioactive synovectomy. This is a relatively non-invasive procedure to do synovectomy, leading to a reduction in pain and joint bleeds. Radioactive synovectomy seems more effective than chemical synovectomy in larger joints. Surgical options are open and arthroscopic synovectomy. Open synovectomy has been found to decrease the incidence of breakthrough bleeds but at the cost of loss of joint motion. Use of arthroscopic synovectomy has been advocated to reduce bleeding episodes with less morbidity to extra-articular tissue and preservation of joint motion. Use of a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine and early mobilization can decrease the postoperative stiffness and promote early recovery. This review addresses the current understanding of synovitis and its treatment options with specific emphasis on chemical and radioactive synovectomy and surgical options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
Issue numberS3
Early online date3 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • haemophilia
  • synovectomy
  • synovitis


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