A synovectomy trial and the history of early knee synovitis in rheumatoid arthritis
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The results of a randomized synovectomy trial are reported and the history of early knee synovitis in 121 patients with rheumatoid arthritis is described. Conservative treatment (rest in splints, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and gold or an anti-malaria agent) for 4–5 months led to improvement in 81 of the 121 patients with early knee synovitis. In one-third of these 81 patients, the improvement continued, according to their own and the doctor's opinion, during 5 years of follow-up. Ten of the 22 patients who fulfilled the criteria for the synovectomy trial were operated upon. They showed improvement for 4 years. Over the 5-year period, two-thirds of the group were constantly seropositive or seronegative and in the other third the serology varied, but such that at each assessment 50% of the group were seropositive. Radiologically, all of the patients showed deterioration. The surgical group deteriorated more slowly for the first 2–3 years, but then showed the same pattern as the other groups. The disappearance of the clinical features of synovitis does not mean that radiological deterioration has ceased.
Key wordsRheumatoid arthritis Synovectomy trial Knee synovitis
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