Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis (PVNS) | Diagnosis & Treatment

How is PVNS diagnosed?

Diagnostic procedures for pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) are used to determine the exact type of tumor your child has and whether the tumor has spread. These may include: 

  • a physical exam, including neurologic function tests to measure your child’s reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness.
  • x-rays to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produces detailed images of organs and structures within the body and/or spine
  • arthography, a special x-ray of the affected joint that involves the injection of a radiopaque substance directly into the affected area

Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center is home to some of the world's most skilled pediatric oncologists. And while we're known for our science-driven approach to treating conditions like red blood cell disorders, our doctors never forget that your child is a child, and not just a patient.

We specialize in innovative, family-centered care. From your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting all of your family's physical and psychosocial needs.

What are the treatment options for PVNS?

Treatment options will vary greatly, depending on your child's situation, and your child's doctor will discuss the options with you in-depth. Treatment may include:


Since PVNS can continue to grow and invade the bone, the treatment of choice is usually an operation called a synovectomy, in which the affected synovial tissue is surgically removed.


Our doctors use precisely targeted and dosed radiation to kill cancer cells left behind after your child's surgery. This has been used successfully to control recurrence of PVNS, but is generally avoided in children because of growth issues and the concern about radiation associated malignancy later in life.

What is the recommended long-term care for children with PVNS?

Children treated for PVNS should visit a survivorship clinic every year to:

  • manage disease complications
  • screen for early recurrence of cancer
  • manage late effects of treatment

A typical follow-up visit may include some or all of the following:

  • a physical exam
  • laboratory testing
  • imaging scans

Through the David B. Perini Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, childhood cancer survivors receive a comprehensive follow-up evaluation from their cancer care team. Our childhood cancer survivorship clinic is held weekly.In addition to meeting with your pediatric oncologists, your child may see one of our endocrinologists, cardiologists, neurologists, neuro-psychologists or alternative/complementary therapy specialists.

We also offer the following services:

  • patient and family education
  • psychosocial assessment
  • genetic counseling
  • reproductive and fertility evaluation and counseling
  • opportunities to speak with other childhood cancer survivors