Synovial osteochondromatosis: What causes it?

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Synovial osteochondromatosis: What causes it?

Question

What causes synovial osteochondromatosis?

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Answer

Synovial osteochondromatosis is an uncommon joint disorder in which cartilage forms in the lining of the joint (synovium). This disorder generally involves a single joint — most commonly the knee, hip or elbow. Synovial osteochondromatosis occurs most often in young to middle-aged adults. Causes include:

  • Abnormal changes (metaplasia) in the cells in the synovium. This is called primary synovial osteochondromatosis. In this type, cells in the joint lining convert to cartilage-producing cells (chondrocytes). Cartilage "nests" enlarge, break off into the joint space and calcify, forming loose bodies.
  • Injury or osteoarthritis. Doctors refer to this as secondary synovial osteochondromatosis.

Signs and symptoms of synovial osteochondromatosis may include:

  • Pain, swelling, limited motion of the affected joint
  • Locking of the joint

A doctor may diagnose synovial osteochondromatosis by an imaging scan of the affected joint. Treatment typically is surgical removal of the affected synovium and loose bodies. The disorder can recur.

Last Updated: 04/28/2006
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