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Vet Surg. 1996 Mar-Apr;25(2):142-53.

Repair and function of synovium after arthroscopic synovectomy of the dorsal compartment of the equine antebrachiocarpal joint.

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Department of Veterinary Anesthesiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


The reparative ability of equine synovium was determined by gross, histological, and ultrastructural examination. The functional potential of the synovium was estimated by examination of synovial cell organelles with transmission electron microscopy. Results from rested and exercised horses were compared to determine the effect of exercise on synovial healing. The response of synovectomized joint to exercise was evaluated with a standardized lameness examination and by gross, histological, and histochemical observations of the articular cartilage. A 7-mm diameter motorized synovial resector was used to perform a subtotal synovectomy in 1 antebrachiocarpal joint of each of 8 horses; the contralateral joint served as a control. After 2 months rest, four randomly selected horses were rigorously exercised for the remainder of the study; the other four horses continued paddock rest. Lameness examinations and synovial fluid analyses were conducted at 0, 2, 30, 60, and 120 days. Synovium and articular cartilage from all horses were examined at necropsy at 120 days. None of the horses were lame during the study, and transient synovitis occurred in the synovectomized joints. The hyaluronan concentration of treated joints decreased at 2 days but returned to normal by 60 days. Synovial fluid composition, including hyaluronan concentration, was unchanged by exercise. Significant cartilage damage was not observed in any of the joints. At 120 days, the healing synovium was devoid of villi and its subintima was fibrotic, however transmission electron microscopy confirmed that an intimal layer was present within the repair tissue. The cells within the repair tissue appeared actively engaged in both synthesis and phagocytosis. Exercise did not modify any of these findings. The results of this study suggest that 120 days after subtotal synovectomy, the joint environment was maintained and and the resected synovium had evidence of restoration and increased metabolic potential. Synovectomized joints withstood exercise but synovial repair was not accelerated by exercise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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