Pigmented villo-nodular synovitis (PVNS) is an uncommon proliferative condition of the synovial membrane that chiefly affects the knee. Arthroscopic synovectomy may carry lower morbidity rates but higher recurrence rates than open synovectomy. Here, our objective was to evaluate recurrence rates and functional outcomes after primary arthroscopic synovectomy for PVNS of the knee.

Primary arthroscopic synovectomy preserves knee function while producing low recurrence and complication rates.

We retrospectively included consecutive patients with histologically documented PVNS managed with primary arthroscopic synovectomy at two centres between 1998 and 2011. Twenty-three patients, 13 men and 10 women with a mean age of 41 ± 12 years, were reviewed including 16 patients with nodular and 7 with diffuse form of this disease. Patients with localized disease underwent partial synovectomy and those with diffuse disease complete synovectomy followed by chemical synovectomy of any residual lesions. The primary outcome measure was recurrence. Secondary outcome measures were the Tegner-Lysholm and Ogilvie-Harris scores.

Follow-up data were obtained after a mean of 7 ± 4 years in 21 patients (14 with nodular and 7 with diffuse disease), of whom 2 had recurrences, after 2 and 5 years, respectively. At last follow-up, neither patient had any evidence of recurrence. The mean Tegner-Lysholm score was significantly improved (from 68 ± 10 to 90 ± 8, P=0.0004) and the mean Ogilvie-Harris score indicated excellent function (11 ± 1).

Primary arthroscopic synovectomy ensures satisfactory control of PVNS while preserving knee function. A full recovery remains possible even in patients with diffuse disease. In the event of a recurrence, open synovectomy can be performed.

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