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J Hand Surg Br. 1994 Aug;19(4):479-84.

Silicone synovitis. A perspective.

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Sydney Hospital Hand Unit, Australia.


Silicone implant arthroplasty is, arguably, the most effective treatment for the majority of patients with symptomatic arthritis in the hand and wrist. In 1985 the problem of silicone synovitis was first brought to our attention. Since that time there have been numerous reports on this condition leading to a worldwide trend against the use of silicone implants. However, the true incidence and effects of silicone synovitis have not been clearly defined. For this reason, we have undertaken a survey of all patients who have undergone silicone implant arthroplasty in the wrist and hand in our Unit between 1975 and 1990. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and those undergoing MP or IP joint arthroplasty were excluded. Of the 289 implant arthroplasties remaining, we have been able to review personally 229 implants with a mean follow-up of 3.8 years (range 1-15). Although 40% of cases showed significant radiological changes, only 11 patients (4.8%) developed symptoms requiring treatment. Of these, two were managed conservatively whilst the rest underwent revision surgery, all with entirely satisfactory results. We conclude that silicone implant arthroplasty remains the treatment of choice for patients with painful joint disease in the hand and wrist.

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