Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Questioned

By From ; News Reports | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), July 15, 2015 | Go to article overview

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Questioned


From ; News Reports, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


A common knee surgery to relieve pain and clean up worn-out knees may not be worth the time and effort for middle-aged patients, according to new research.

A review of many different studies on arthroscopic knee surgery found that the surgery helped for only a few months and had dangerous side effects like blood clots and infection.

Patients with bad knees might do better with weight loss and exercise instead of the surgery, the researchers write in the British Medical Journal, according to a report on NBCNews.com.

According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, more than 4 million knee arthroscopy procedures are done worldwide each year, 700,000 in the United States alone.

And knee pain is common. Americans make more than 5.7 million visits to the doctor for knee pain each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But is surgery the answer?

Researchers examined nine different studies involving more than 1,200 middle-aged or older patients with knee pain and degenerative knee disease who got arthroscopic knee surgery.

"When we analyzed pain for different postoperative time points, the benefit favoring arthroscopic surgery was present only at three and six months, but not at later time points," the research team stated in the NBC News report. "Harms included symptomatic deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, infection and death," the team added.

"Taken together, these findings do not support the practice of arthroscopic surgery for middle-aged or older patients with knee pain with or without signs of osteoarthritis," they concluded.

"More often than not, the knee pain can be treated without surgery."

The study's credibility was questioned by at least one prominent North Jersey knee physician. "It's not a very well done study. It makes a general statement that arthroscopic surgery doesn't help older people, which is just not true," said Dr. Charles J. Gatt Jr., chairman and associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick.

"One of the most common procedures is the removal of torn meniscus, or the removal of bone spurs. When it's from arthritis, it doesn't really help much or lead to long-term changes. …

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