This is a mean 2 year follow-up of 26 rheumatoid elbows that underwent arthroscopic synovectomy. The authors report that at a mean of 34 months, the visual analog scale decreased from 6.5 to 3.1. The flexion arc improved from 100 to 113. The MEPS score improved from 59 to 77. The authors’ report 2 excellent, 17 good, 4 fair and 3 poor results. Clinically apparent synovitis reoccurred in 4 elbows.
This article suggests that in selected patients with rheumatoid arthritis, arthoscopic synovectomy provides some short-term relief at the 3 year mark. The changes notes by the authors indicate that the improvements are moderate. Thus, this procedure is probably best suited for the patient with early arthritis (before advanced degenerative changes) when conservative measures have failed and synovitis persists. Newer medications for the inflammatory arthropathies have significantly decreased the need for surgery in this patient population.