Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) is a rare proliferative process of the synovium which most commonly affects the knee and occurs in either a localised (LPVNS) or a diffuse form (DPVNS). The effect of different methods of surgical synovectomy and adjuvant radiotherapy on the rate of recurrence is unclear. We conducted a systematic review and identified 35 observational studies in English which reported the use of surgical synovectomy to treat PVNS of the knee.
A meta-analysis included 630 patients, 137 (21.8%) of whom had a recurrence after synovectomy. For patients with DPVNS, low-quality evidence found that the rate of recurrence was reduced by both open synovectomy (odds ration (OR) = 0.47; 95% CI 0.25 to 0.90; p = 0.024) and combined open and arthroscopic synovectomy (OR = 0.19, 95% CI = 0.06 to 0.58; p = 0.003) compared with arthroscopic surgery. Very low-quality evidence found that the rate of recurrence of DPVNS was reduced by peri-operative radiotherapy (OR = 0.31, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.70; p = 0.01). Very low-quality evidence suggested that the rate of recurrence of LPVNS was not related to the surgical approach.
This meta-analysis suggests that open synovectomy or synovectomy combined with perioperative radiotherapy for DPVNS is associated with a reduced rate of recurrence. Large long-term prospective multicentre observational studies, with a focus on both rate of recurrence and function, are required to confirm these findings.