Radiation synovectomy: treatment option for haemophilia patients with chronic haemarthrosis: a review

  • GW Kitonyi
  • JM Kitonyi


Background: Ablation of the synovium with radiopharmaceuticals, referred to as radiation synovectomy, (RS), has emerged as a simple affordable and safe procedure that is highly effective in preventing chronic disabling end stage arthritis in haemophilia patients. Objective: To provide a review of the principles and role of radiation synovectomy, (RS), in the management of haemophiliac patients with chronic haemarthrosis, and to consider the possibility of this treatment option in Kenyan patients with haemophilia. Data sources: A literature search through the internet using Boolean commands, PubMed interface to MEDLINE, Evidence, the Cochrane library. Papers from reputable haematology and radiation medicine journals, as well as conference presentations of the World Federation of Hemophilia were also included. Data selection: The searches for papers, abstracts and reviews were limited to English language, haemophilia, haemarthrosis, synovectomy, RS, radiopharmaceuticals for RS and safety of RS. Data extraction: All abstracts, and most of the papers were reviewed. Only those abstracts, papers and conference materials from reputable sources were used for this paper. Data synthesis: All available papers and abstracts were reviewed for the most up to date information. The indications, requirements, procedure and safety aspects of RS were examined. The merits of alternative forms of synovectomy were considered. In the light of this information, the feasibility of RS as a treatment option for haemophilia patients in Kenya was considered. Conclusion: Radiation synovectomy has been carried out on thousands of haemophilia patients with chronic haemathrosis over the last 20 years. Experience accumulated in numerous centres in America, Europe, Asia, North and South Africa indicates that majority of haemophilia patients undergoing RS are spared life long crippling arthritis and deformity. The principle safety concern of the potential for late radiation- related malignancy has been mitigated by appropriate choice of radiopharmaceuticals, and carefully executed procedure. The effectiveness, simplicity and affordability of RS make it particularly suitable for treatment of haemophilia patients in developing countries like Kenya.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0012-835X