Cartilage Repair Knee Operations May be a 'Waste of Time'

Posted by Admin on February 4, 2014
A new study from Finland indicates that thousands of individuals who have undergone arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn cartilage could be wasting their time. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the report on the Finnish Degenerative Meniscal Lesion Study reveals that the benefits of keyhole operations to repair degenerative meniscal tears are no better than sham operations.

Prior research has demonstrated that keyhole surgery on the knee does not aid patients with osteoarthritis and these procedures have become less common for arthritis sufferers. In the meantime, keyhole surgery to repair torn cartilage has grown significantly, despite little evidence that demonstrates its advantages, according to the Finnish team.

For this new study, the Finnish team recruited 146 patients aged 35 to 65 with meniscal tears that accumulated through wear and tear rather than the result of trauma or injury. None of the patients had arthritis of the knee. The investigators randomly assigned the patients to one of two groups: one underwent keyhole surgery to partially remove the damaged meniscus while the other received a sham procedure.

However, neither the patients nor the people administering the treatments following the operation, nor the researchers analyzing the results knew which patients had received the real operation and which just had the sham procedure.

The study results demonstrated that following one year, both patient groups had an equally low rate of symptoms and both were equally satisfied with their overall situation regarding their knee. Both groups of patients believed their knee felt better than it did prior to the operation.

The study authors conclude, "In this trial involving patients without knee osteoarthritis but with symptoms of a degenerative medial meniscus tear, the outcomes after arthroscopic partial meniscectomy were no better than those after a sham surgical procedure."


Written by Elijah Lamond

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