Researchers have discovered that ~one third of patients preparing to undergo joint replacement surgery for osteoarthritis (OA) have severe inflammation in the synovial fluid that surrounds and protects the joints. This finding was published in Arthritis & Rheumatism (August 2003). This inflammation is a known cause of rheumatoid arthritis. To investigate whether synovial fluid is the culprit in OA, researchers from the University of Nottingham (UK) took synovial tissue samples from men and women with an average age of 69 who were about to undergo replacement of the hips or knees due to advanced OA. Of the 104 patients, 32 showed evidence of the most severe inflammation, 36 showed evidence of moderate inflammation, 29 had minor inflammation, and 7 showed no symptoms.
?Many people with early osteoarthritis have few symptoms, and understanding the role of inflammation in OA may enable markers of inflammation to be used to help decide whether someone with early OA should be offered treatment or not,? said study coauthor David A.Walsh, PhD, a senior lecturer in rheumatology at the University of Nottingham.
Steven B. Abramson, MD, chairman of the department of rheumatology and medicine at New York University-Hospital for Joint Diseases, said that as the association becomes clearer the use of magnetic resonance imaging in the finding of synovitis will become common and could serve as an indicator for OA.