The effective osmotic pressure across the blood-joint barrier is a key factor controlling synovial fluid volume and joint effusions. The effect of plasma colloid osmotic pressure (COP) on trans-synovial flow was studied directly in rabbit knees expanded by intra-articular fluid infusion. The synovial microcirculation was perfused with blood of varying COP. Absorption of fluid from the joint cavity was a linear function of COP; but albumin COP was only 78% effective across the blood-joint interface. Hyperosmolar solutions of small solutes (e.g., glucose) generated transient osmotic flows across the blood-joint barrier, but far less effectively than albumin. The hydraulic permeability of synovium increased at pathological intra-articular pressures--a phenomenon of potential importance to effusion kinetics.
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