Percutaneous needle biopsy and synovial histology

Baillieres Clin Rheumatol. 1996 Aug;10(3):535-54. doi: 10.1016/s0950-3579(96)80048-3.


Percutaneous needle biopsies of synovium are successfully used for diagnosis and investigation of joint disease by an increasing number of groups around the world. This procedure can be done in the office with little morbidity; a large number of samples can minimize the potential limitation of sampling error. Clinical indications for 'imaging the joint' by looking at morphological and other features of the actual tissue include undiagnosed acute or chronic mono- or oligoarthritis, haemarthrosis, suspected deposition diseases, new developments in previous stable disease and less often unexplained polyarthritis. Research into any joint disease can be helped by study of synovium especially using newer immunohistochemical, EM and molecular techniques. This report has reviewed other methods used for obtaining synovium, described the different percutaneous biopsy needles, detailed the methods used for biopsy with the Parker-Pearson needle and described how our group handles tissue so as to obtain maximal impact. The very few side effects of needle biopsy include haemarthrosis and, rarely, needle breakage. Finally, we have provided a brief overview of normal synovium and some aspects of synovium in a variety of joint diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / diagnosis
  • Arthritis / pathology
  • Biopsy, Needle / adverse effects
  • Biopsy, Needle / methods
  • Contraindications
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis
  • Lyme Disease / pathology
  • Myositis / diagnosis
  • Myositis / pathology
  • Needles
  • Polyarteritis Nodosa
  • Punctures / instrumentation*
  • Punctures / methods
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / pathology
  • Specimen Handling
  • Synovial Membrane / anatomy & histology*
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology