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Arthritis Surgery

Knee arthroscopy ineffective for treatment of arthritis

10 years, 3 months ago

1535  0
Posted on Sep 11, 2008, 7 a.m. By Rich Hurd

Knee arthroscopy is no more effective at reducing the symptoms of moderate to severe osteoarthritis than non-surgical treatment options, such as medication and physiotherapy, according to results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Knee arthroscopy is no more effective at reducing the symptoms of moderate to severe osteoarthritis than non-surgical treatment options, such as medication and physiotherapy, according to results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study involved nearly 200 patients with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Half were prescribed medications – including anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and glucosamine and chondroitin supplements – weekly physical therapy for three months, and twice-daily exercises to do at home. The other half received the same treatments, but also underwent arthroscopic surgery. After two years, there was no difference between the two groups in terms of pain, physical function, and overall quality of life.

“This study provides definitive evidence that arthroscopic surgery provides no additional therapeutic value when added to physical therapy and medication for patients with moderate osteoarthritis of the knee,” says study co-author Dr. Brian Feagan in a press release issued by the University of Western Ontario, where the research was conducted.

The authors conclude that while arthroscopic knee surgery is beneficial in the treatment of other conditions affecting the knee, it should not be considered a routine treatment option for osteoarthritis.

Latest figures suggest that nearly 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis. Approximately 1 million arthroscopic knee surgeries are carried out in the US each year, costing in the region of $7,000 when performance as an outpatient procedure. Previous research has questioned the effectiveness of the surgery for the treatment of arthritis, however the procedure still remains popular.

Kirkley A, Birmingham TB, Litchfield RB, Giffin JR, Willits KR, Wong CJ, Feagan NG, Donner A, Griffin SH, D'Ascanio LM, Pope JE, Fowler PJ. A Randomized Trial of Arthroscopic Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee. NEJM 2008;359:1097-1107.

Press release: Popular surgery provides no relief for osteoarthritis of the knee. University of Western Ontario website. September 10th 2008.

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