Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis (PVNS)

What is pigmented villonodular synovitis?

Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) is a type of benign (non-cancerous) tumor that arises from the soft connective tissue of joints. Any joint can be affected, although the tumor is most commonly found in the knee or hip joint. Although it can be painful, PVNS usually does not spread. It does, however, have a high rate of recurrence after surgery.

  • PVNS usually has a good outcome because it is usually not considered an aggressive tumor.
  • It is sometimes completely cured through surgery, although it recurs in about half of all cases.
  • It is rare in children.
  • The cause is unknown.

What causes pigmented villonodular synovitis?

PVNS is rare in children and mostly affects young adults. The exact cause of PVNS is unknown.

What are the symptoms of PVNS?

While symptoms may vary child-to-child, the most common include:

  • swelling of a joint (usually painless)
  • joint effusion (fluid, usually bloody), in the joint
  • pain (sometimes)
  • sometimes limping or difficulty using legs, arms, hands, or feet

How we approach pigmented villonodular synovitis

Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center provides comprehensive medical and surgical care for children and adolescents with PVNS.

We understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with an PVNS. Is it dangerous? Will it affect my child long-term? What do we do next? We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions, and our experts can explain your child’s condition fully. If you have further questions during your hospital stay, our experts can answer your questions fully.

Our multidisciplinary approach to care ensures that your child’s case will be given thoughtful discussion by an integrated care from a team that includes the following specialists:

  • pediatric oncologists, surgical oncologists, and radiation oncologists
  • pediatric experts from every medical subspecialty, such as orthopedics, ophthalmology, physical therapy, and radiology, among others
  • highly skilled and experienced pediatric oncology nurses
  • Child Life specialists, psychologists, social workers, and resource specialists who provide supportive care before, during, and after treatment

In addition, our cancer center offers the following services:

  • Expert diagnosis by pathologists using advanced molecular diagnostic testing to identify your child’s type of tumor. Knowing the molecular composition of a tumor helps predict which treatments are more likely to work.
  • Access to unique Phase I clinical trials, from our own investigators and from the Children’s Oncology Group.
  • Expert surgical care from experienced pediatric surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons, several of whom developed approaches used at centers across the country. 
  • Support services to address all of your child and family’s needs.
  • A weekly survivorship clinic, which set the national standard for childhood cancer survivorship care. This weekly clinic offers ongoing care to manage late effects caused by your child’s cancer or the treatment she’s received.