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Journal of the Korean Society for Surgery of the Hand 2009;14(3):131-137.
Published online September 1, 2009.
Results of Open Synovectomy for Rheumatoid Elbow
Bong Gun Lee, Wan Sik Seo, Won Min Jo, Kwang Hyun Lee
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. leegh@hanyang.ac.kr
To identify the recovery of joint movement and decrease in pain through the radiological findings after open synovectomy for the elbow with rheumatoid arthritis which was not cured by medication. MATERIALS AND METHODS: From 1997 to 2008, the research on open synovectomy for the elbow with rheumatoid arthritis was done in 19 patients with 21 cases whose average follow-up was 12 months. Despite the medical treatment, the indication of operation was towards the patients with Larsen grade I~III rheumatoid arthritis whose joint swelling and pain had not been improved. Also, the indication of operation included the patients with Larsen grade IV who rejected joint replacement or needed to postpone the operation due to young age. Main symptom was pain in all cases; Preoperative flexion contracture and flexion-extension movement on average was 29 degree and 86 degree, respectively.Postoperative radiological and physical examination were done; Visual analogue scale and Mayo elbow performance score were measured.

Joint swelling recurred in two cases (9.5%). However, the size of swelling was mild compared to preoperative condition. Preoperative total mean flexion contracture was 29 degree (10~45 degree) and total mean flexion-extension movement was 86 degree (60~135degree). Last follow-up total mean flexion contracture was 18 degree (5~50 degree) and total mean flexion movement was 102 degree (35~150 degree). Statistically, the increase of range of joint movement was not significant. Radiologically, there were 11 cases(52.3%) showing no changes in preoperative and postoperative grade while there were 10 cases(47.6%) with increase in grade. As for VAS score, total mean preoperative score was 5 and postoperative score was 2.3(0~8) showing less pain than the past. After statistical analysis separated by Grade I, II, III and IV, last follow-up of VAS score, Mayo elbow performance score and elbow joint movement showed no statistical difference compared to Larsen grade (p=0.075).

Open Synovectomy for elbow with rheumatoid arthritis can not stop radiological progress, and the increase in range of joint movement is not statistically meaningful. However the operation displays clinical improvement such as decrease in pain and increase in range of joint movement.
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