Study questions value of common knee surgery

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Posted December 27, 2013
Study questions value of common knee surgery
Procedure to repair a torn meniscus worked no better than a fake one to ease lingering pain.
Improvements in knee pain following a common orthopedic procedure appear to be largely due to the placebo effect, a new Finnish study suggests.

The research, which was published Dec. 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine, has weighty implications for the 700,000 patients who have arthroscopic surgery each year in the United States to repair a torn meniscus. A meniscus is a C-shaped pad of cartilage that cushions the knee joint.

For a meniscal repair, orthopedic surgeons use a camera and tiny instruments inserted through small incisions around the knee to shave damaged tissue away. The idea is that clearing sharp and unstable debris out of the joint should relieve pain.

But mounting evidence suggests that, for many patients, the procedure just doesn’t work as intended.

“There have been several trials now, including this one, where surgeons have examined whether meniscal tear surgery accomplishes anything, basically, and the answer through all those studies is no, it doesn’t,” said Dr. David Felson, a professor of medicine and public health at Boston University. He was not involved in the new research.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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