Arthroscopy May Not Help Knee Arthritis

Study Shows Popular Knee Surgery May Not Reduce Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

WebMD—September 10, 2008

Arthroscopic knee surgery for people suffering from osteoarthritis doesn't reduce joint symptoms or improve its function compared with optimal nonsurgical treatment.

That's according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers found that both groups of patients experienced similar improvements in joint pain, stiffness, and function.

At the end of two years, the researchers concluded that compared with nonsurgical treatment, arthroscopic surgery of the knee did not improve joint symptoms or function for people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.

An editorial published in the same issue of The New England Journal of Medicine supported this idea. The editorial was written by Robert Marx, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon from Hospital for Special Surgery and Weill Medical College of Cornell University; it reiterated that this study did not attempt to treat patients who have a combination of knee ailments, such as osteoarthritis and a meniscal tear. Marx stresses that in the presence of both problems and knee pain, "it can be difficult to determine which of the two is the major cause."

Marx says that while the study's results demonstrate that arthroscopic surgery is not indicated in treating patients who only have osteoarthritis of the knee, it can still be appropriate for patients with a combination of knee problems. It is important to "to individualize decision-making with respect to arthroscopic surgery for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee."

Read the full story at WebMD.com.

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