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Synovial biopsy

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Biopsy - synovial membrane

How the test is performed

The test is usually done in the operating room with the use of arthroscopy.

The health care provider will inject a numbing medicine (local anesthetic) into the area. An instrument called a trocar is inserted into the joint space. This tool helps push fluid in and out of the area. A biopsy grasper is inserted through the trocar and turned to cut out a tissue segment.

The tools are removed. The biopsy site is cleaned. Pressure and a bandage are applied.

How to prepare for the test

Tell your health care provider:

  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have any drug allergies
  • If you have bleeding problems
  • What medications you are taking (including any herbal medicines and supplements)

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.

Why the test is performed

Synovial biopsy helps diagnose gout, bacterial infections, or other infections, and may suggest the presence of inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune disorders.

Normal Values

The synovial membrane structure is normal.

What abnormal results mean

Synovial biopsy may identify the following conditions:

The test may help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

What the risks are

There is a very slight chance of infection and bleeding. Rarely, there is a chance of the needle striking a nerve or blood vessel.

References

El-Gabalawy HS. Synovial fluid analysis, synovial biopsy, and synovial pathology. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris ED Jr., et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 48.


Review Date: 7/28/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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