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Synovial biopsy

Biopsy - synovial membrane; Rheumatoid arthritis - synovial biopsy; Gout - synovial biopsy; Joint infection - synovial biopsy; Synovitis - synovial biopsy

A synovial biopsy is the removal of a piece of tissue lining a joint for examination. The tissue is called the synovial membrane.

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Synovial biopsy

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How the Test is Performed

The test is done in the operating room, often during an arthroscopy. This is a procedure that uses a tiny camera and surgical tools to examine or repair the tissues inside or around a joint. The camera is called an arthroscope. During this procedure:

How to Prepare for the Test

Follow your health care provider's instructions on how to prepare. This may include not eating and drinking anything for several hours before the procedure.

How the Test will Feel

With the local anesthetic, you will feel a prick and a burning sensation. As the trocar is inserted, there will be some discomfort. If the surgery is performed under regional or general anesthesia, you will not feel the procedure.

Why the Test is Performed

Synovial biopsy helps diagnose gout and bacterial infections, or rule out other infections. It can be used to diagnose autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, or uncommon infections like tuberculosis or fungal infections.

Normal Results

The synovial membrane structure is normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Synovial biopsy may identify the following conditions:

Risks

There is a very slight chance of infection and bleeding.

Considerations

Follow instructions for keeping the wound clean and dry until your provider says it is OK to get it wet.

Related Information

Biopsy
Gout
Valley fever
Fungal arthritis
Hemochromatosis
Pulmonary tuberculosis
Cancer
Rheumatoid arthritis

References

El-Gabalawy HS, Tanner S. Synovial fluid analyses, synovial biopsy, and synovial pathology. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, Koretzky GA, McInnes IB, O'Dell JR, eds. Firestein and Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 56.

West SG. Synovial biopsies. In: West SG, Kolfenbach J, eds. Rheumatology Secrets. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 9.

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Review Date: 8/3/2020  

Reviewed By: Diane M. Horowitz, MD, Rheumatology and Internal Medicine, Northwell Health, Great Neck, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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