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What is a knee synovectomy?

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A knee synovectomy is a surgical procedure in which inflamed tissue is removed from the knee, describes WebMD. The procedure is sometimes performed on patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

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A synovectomy is occasionally performed on joints that are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, explains WebMD, but only if the joint pain cannot be treated effectively with pain medication. A doctor usually waits 6 to 12 months before recommending the surgery. A synovectomy is not intended to treat or cure rheumatoid arthritis, as it only helps to temporarily relieve the pain.

The pain of rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation in the joints, and the disorder can lead to bone erosion and joint deformity, according to Mayo Clinic. In performing a synovectomy, a surgeon attempts to remove this inflamed tissue in order to relieve the pain and stiffness in the joint, describes WebMD. A synovectomy can sometimes involve moving ligaments and other parts of the joint to get to the inflamed tissue. Because of this, the procedure is generally only performed on joints that have a small amount of bone or cartilage damage. A synovectomy is generally not used for the late stages of rheumatoid arthritis, because the joints have already suffered a severe amount of deterioration.

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