Merck Manual

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Joint Tumors

By

Michael J. Joyce

, MD, Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University;


David M. Joyce

, MD, Moffitt Cancer Center

Last full review/revision Jul 2022
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
Topic Resources

Tumors rarely affect joints unless a bone tumor or soft-tissue tumor is near a joint. However, two conditions—synovial chondromatosis and tenosynovial giant cell tumors—occur in the lining (synovium) of joints. These tumors are noncancerous (benign) but can cause severe damage to the joint. Both conditions usually affect one joint, most often the knee or the hip, and can cause pain and a buildup of fluid.

Treatment for both requires surgical removal of the abnormal synovium (called synovectomy).

Tenosynovial giant cell tumor

Tenosynovial giant cell tumor (also known as pigmented villonodular synovitis [PVNS]) causes the lining of the joint to become swollen and grow. This growth harms the cartilage and bone around the joint. The lining also produces extra fluid that can cause pain and swelling. The process often causes bloody fluid in the joint. Tenosynovial giant cell tumor usually affects one joint.

The treatment is usually surgical, but recurrences are not infrequent. Pexidartinib, a drug taken by mouth, is used to diminish the tumor's growth, but only if symptoms are severe and not relieved by surgery. Pexidartinib is available in the United States only in cancer centers through the manufacturer's Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy Program. The drug can cause serious and potentially fatal liver injury in some people.

Synovial chondromatosis

Synovial chondromatosis (previously called synovial osteochondromatosis) is a condition in which cells in the lining of the joint turn into cartilage-producing cells. These converted cells can form clumps of cartilage, which then shed into the space around the joint, forming loose bodies that may be no larger than a grain of rice, and cause pain and swelling. This condition rarely becomes cancerous (malignant).

If symptoms are severe, the loose bodies are removed along with the abnormal synovium. This condition commonly returns after treatment.

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