Synovial Chondromatosis

Synovial chondromatosis or synovial osteochondromatosis is a rare, noncancerous (benign) tumor that affects the thin layer of tissue surrounding the joints called synovium. Although it can develop in any joint of the body, Synovial chondromatosis mostly occurs in the knees.


The tumor is not malignant (cancerous), however, it can still damage the joints and often lead to osteoarthritis. Therefore, to relieve symptoms like pain, early treatment becomes necessary. This helps prevent further damage to the joints.


Synovial chondromatosis usually affects individuals above the age of 30. It affects as much as twice males than females.



There is no known cause of synovial chondromatosis. Researchers believe that cancer occurs spontaneously. Furthermore, there is no inheritance pattern.


In this condition, the abnormal growth of synovium occurs which leads to the production of nodules that are made of cartilage. Sometimes, these nodules break off from the synovium, thereby loosening inside the joints.

Furthermore, the size of the cartilage that loosens can vary. It could range in size from a few mms to few cms. The fluid present in the synovium nourishes these loose bodies, which may then grow, calcify, or turn into a bone.



The symptoms of synovial chondromatosis are largely the same as that of osteoarthritis. This is because the loose bodies or nodules that form in synovial chondromatosis can damage the smooth articular cartilage surrounding the joints, which leads to osteoarthritis.


Due to this, your cartilage becomes worn, and moving the joints becomes painful. Furthermore, in severe cases, penetration of the nodules into the joints occurs as they grow larger to occupy the entire space in the joints.

These include:

Pain in the joints

Swelling in the joints

Affected joint shows a limited range of motion

Other signs and symptoms include:


Fluid in the joint

During movement, your joints show a grinding, creaking, or popping noise (crepitus).

You can also feel the presence of nodules in joints that lie closer to the skin like the ankle, knee, and elbow joints.



To relieve the painful symptoms, it becomes important to treat your synovial chondromatosis as soon as possible. This will help you prevent osteoarthritis in your joints.


Physical Examination. Your healthcare provider will ask you about your medical history and general health.  He/she may ask about various symptoms that you feel. The joint having cancer may show:



Limited range of motion


During movement, grinding noises occur which indicates bone to bone friction.


Imaging Studies. To help detect synovial enchondromatosis, your doctor may order various imaging studies. These tests show the differences between osteoarthritis and synovial chondromatosis.

X-rays.  An X-ray provides images of dense structures (bones) in the body. The loose bones ossify or calcify because the tumor is visible on X-ray. However, the smaller bones do not calcify or ossify, thereby not showing in an x-ray.


Other imaging studies. As the X-rays do not show loose bodies, thus your doctor may ask for computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This helps to evaluate the joints in a better way. Typically, a loose body appears on both CT and MRI scans.


These imaging tests also help you in identifying some other problems other than the loose bodies. These additional problems could be the presence of fluid in joints or the narrowing of the joint space.



Nonsurgical Treatment. 

Observation. If you have no greater symptoms, then your doctor may simply observe the tumor as a better treatment option.  He/she may consider several factors carefully before going for a particular treatment.


Thus, he/she will continuously monitor the treatment. This helps to check the progression of your symptoms like osteoarthritis.


Surgical Treatment. Surgery can be a beneficial treatment for the removal of synovial chondromatosis. This way your doctor may try to remove the loose cartilage bodies. In certain cases, your doctor may try to remove the synovium partially or fully during surgery. This is called a synovectomy.


Surgery may be of two types like an arthroscopic procedure or an open procedure. Your doctor will look for several factors before choosing a particular method. These factors include:

The size of the loose bodies

The number of loose bodies

The condition of the synovium


Our doctor will traditionally make one or two large incisions at the place of the tumor. Your doctor will make smaller incisions in an arthroscopic procedure. For this procedure, he/she may remove the loose bodies by using miniature surgical tools.

Furthermore, there are the same results for both open and arthroscopic procedures. Thus, before choosing a better option, your doctor may talk about the particular surgical technique.

Recovery from Surgery.

 Depending on the type of surgery you have, it may take some time for you to return to daily activities. Thus, to guide your rehabilitation, your healthcare provider will provide you with some particular instructions.


Furthermore, in up to 20% of individuals, Synovial chondromatosis may return. After surgery, your doctor may regularly check you for any recurrence.


For any other progression of osteoarthritis, our doctor may also monitor your joint regularly. Whether or not you develop osteoarthritis is going to depend upon the amount of damage that synovial chondromatosis has already done to the joint.


Coping and support 


When you get diagnosed with Synovial chondromatosis, it could be frightening for you. The condition will be no different for your family.


However, you may learn to cope with the uncertainty and distress related to cancer with time.  Thus, you need to follow these instructions until then;


Call on for medical support:


Various things are going to help you. For instance, the knowledge and understanding of a medical social worker, or any other mental health professional is necessary. They will help you in understanding your cancer.


Furthermore, if your child or other family member suffers from cancer, you need to ask health care professionals for advice. They will provide you with options for medical health support. This will also provide you with emotional and social support.


In addition to this, you can check various online services that will provide you support to combat cancer.


  • Gain more knowledge about Synovial chondromatosis to make decisionsabout control and care: 


Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to Synovial chondromatosis. Little knowledge is dangerous. Therefore, more confidence in understanding and making decisions about treatment options will be there with you. So you should always learn more about the disease.


Ask the health care team for guidance if your child has cancer. Therefore, get more and more information for appropriately caring for the patient.


Be close to your friends and family:

A close and strong relationship with your family and friends is necessary. It will help you deal with Synovial chondromatosis.


You need practical support, moral support from your friends and relatives. Thus, someone should be there for you to look after the family. Emotional support from them is going to matter most. Thus, a healthy and happy person will ultimately efficiently fight the disease.


Prepare for your appointment


You are likely to start making an appointment with your primary care doctor if some signs and symptoms worry you. Ask for a referral to an experienced specialist if your doctor suspects Synovial chondromatosis.


A team of specialists typically can treat. For instance;

Tumor surgeons who have specialization in operating soft tissue cancers.

Doctors who have a specialization in treating cancers with systemic medications or chemotherapy.

Pathologists diagnose the specific type of cancer by analyzing a tissue.

Rehabilitation specialists who after surgery help in the recovery of a tumor.


What you should expect from your doctor:


You will face several questions from your doctor. Thus, you should be ready to answer these. So, give more time to your doctor to address them. Your doctor may ask;


What signs and symptoms concern you more?


Have your symptoms been occasional or continuous?


When did you start to notice the symptoms?

The severity of your symptoms?


Is there anything that improves your symptoms?


Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?


Do you have any family or personal history of cancer?