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Pigmented villonodular synovitis

Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) is a rare, benign condition that affects the synovium of joints, bursae, and tendon sheaths. The etiology, or cause, of this proliferative disorder is unknown. Two forms of the disorder exist: localized and diffuse, the latter being more common.

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Pigmented villonodular synovitis, described distinctly in 1941,[1] comes in two forms: localized and diffuse. Diffuse PVNS effects the entire synovium and typically occurs in large joints such as the knee or hip. Localized, or nodular, PVNS is less common than the diffuse form and typically occurs in smaller joints such as the hands and feet. It often arises in the form of a benign giant cell tumor on the tendon sheaths of the joint.[2] As the tumor grows in the joint, it damages the surrounding bone and tissues.[3] Localized PVNS is predominantly found in females and is frequently found in the fingers. Although rare, localized PVNS may develop in large joints. In either case, the knee is the most commonly affected joint (80% of cases), followed by the hip, and less commonly the ankles and shoulders.[2] PVNS is generally found more in men than women.[4]

Clinical presentation

In general, pigmented villonodular synovitis often manifests initially as sudden onset, unexplained joint swelling and pain; the joint swelling is disproportionate to the amount of pain the patient feels at first. Decreased motion and increased pain occur as the disorder progresses as well as locking of the joint. The localized form often manifests initially as a painless, slow-growing mass and progresses to the other common symptoms of PVNS. The swelling often feels warm to the touch.[2] Diffuse PVNS symptoms are often confused with those of Rheumatoid arthritis.[3] While pigmented villonodular synovitis can occur in both pediatric and geriatric patients, it is more common with ages 20-50.[2]


PVNS is locally aggressive and can spread to surrounding tissues, causing bone erosion and tissue damage. If not treated early, it can spread to areas outside the joint.[5] The disorder also has, on average, a 45% rate of recurrence.[1]

Diagnosis and treatment

PVNS is radiologically diagnosed by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The disorder is difficult to identify and is often not diagnosed for four years or more after presentation due to nonspecific symptoms or a general paucity of symptoms.[1] Once PVNS is confirmed by biopsy of the synovium of an affected joint, a synovectomy of the affected area is most common treatment. Bone lesions caused by the disorder are removed and bone grafting is performed as needed. Because diffuse PVNS has a relatively high rate of recurrence, radiation therapy may be considered as a treatment option. In some cases, a total joint replacement is needed to relieve symptoms when PVNS causes significant joint destruction.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d American Family Physician (online medical journal). Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1999-10-01). Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  2. ^ a b c d Monu, Dr. Johnny U. V.; Dr. Simone Elvey (2006-06-21). Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis (web journal). eMedicine. WebMD. Retrieved on 2007-07-15.
  3. ^ a b Mayclinic. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 2007-07-15.
  4. ^ Family PVNS (web journal). Retrieved on 2007-07-15.
  5. ^ Clinical Study (web journal). The Stone Clinic. Retrieved on 2007-08-07.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pigmented_villonodular_synovitis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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