What is Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis

Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) is a joint problem that usually affects the hip or knee. It can also occur in the shoulder, ankle, elbow, hand or foot. The lining of the joint expands and produces fluid which causes joint swelling and damage to surrounding bone.

Statistics on Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis

PVNS is uncommon. It is thought to affect 2 people in every 1 million people in a year. It occurs most often in patients aged between 20- 50 years.

Risk Factors for Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis

The cause of PVNS is still poorly understood. It does not appear to run in families, or be caused by certain occupations or activities.

Progression of Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis

PVNS is a disorder that affects joints and tendons by altering the joint lining. Two types of PVNS exist – a diffuse (widespread) form that usually affects larger joints such as the knee, and a local form which often affects the hands and feet. The most commonly affected joints in both forms of PVNS are the knee (80% of cases), followed by hip, ankle and shoulder. Usually only one joint is affected.

How is Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis Diagnosed?

Tests such as x-ray, CT scans and MRI scans of the affected joint/s often help to make the diagnosis of PVNS.

Prognosis of Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis

PVNS usually does not cause serious problems, although it may cause aching and reduced mobility in the affected joint/s.

How is Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis Treated?

Symptoms of PVNS (pain, stiffness, swelling) may be improved with resting the joint and taking anti-inflammatory medications. The treatment of choice is surgery to remove the lining of the affected joint, however despite this, sometimes the condition will reoccur. In these cases, radiotherapy may be helpful. For patients with significant joint damage, a total joint replacement may improve symptoms and function.

Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis References

[1] DiCaprio MR, Damron TA, Stadnick M, Fuller C: Pigmented villonodular synovitis of the elbow: a case report and literature review. J Hand Surg [Am] 1999 Mar; 24(2): 386-91.
[2] Frassica, Bhimani, et al. Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis of the Hip and Knee. Am F Phys, 1999. [available online @ http://www.aafp.org/afp/991001ap/1404.html] [3] Monu J. Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis. eMedicine 2002.
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