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Knee Surgery not Necessary for People with Mild Osteoarthritis

Update Date: Aug 25, 2014 12:10 PM EDT

Osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis, manifests after the cartilage present at the end of the bones starts to wear down over time. The condition can cause a lot of pain. In a new study, researchers examined the effects of undergoing knee surgery for people with mild or no osteoarthritis. The team discovered that even though arthroscopic knee surgery is performed for degenerative meniscus tears, the procedure might not have any beneficial effects for these middle-aged and older patients.

"This study shows that surgery should not be the initial option for middle-aged or older patients, as there is limited evidence supporting partial meniscectomy surgery for meniscus tears," Dr. Moin Khan, principal investigator for the study and research fellow in orthopedic surgery in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine said. "Other treatments should be used first."

For this study, Dr. Khan and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis review on seven published studies. The studies included randomized control trials that took place from 1946 to 2014. There were a total of 805 patients with a mean age of 56 and a total of 811 knees that were operated on.

The researchers found that in four of the trials, the patients did not experience short-term pain relief within the first six months post surgery. The researchers added that the patients did not have any improvements in long-term function up to two years later.

"Arthroscopic debridement or washout of knee osteoarthritis has come under lots of scrutiny based upon trials that suggest patients get no benefit from the procedure. We're concerned that many surgeons worldwide may still be doing this procedure," study's co-investigator, Dr. Mohit Bhandari, professor and associate chair of research for McMaster's surgery department, added according to the press release.

Arthroscopic knee surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that involves making small cuts into the knee to remove torn fragments from the meniscus.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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