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Home >  E-Weekly >  December 31, 2013

Study Questions Value of Meniscus Repair

Published: December 30, 2013

Patients who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscal tears fared no better than those who'd had fake surgeries, says a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study adds to previous research suggesting that the population of patients who actually benefit from the surgery may be significantly smaller than the population having it.

In the study, which involved 5 hospitals and 146 patients in Finland, all volunteers were given incisions and anesthesia. Patients who met study criteria either had real surgery to trim torn meniscus or sham surgery with bladeless shavers. A year later, most patients in both groups said they felt better, and most said they'd undergo the same procedure again.

The study appears to bolster a 2002 study in which patients who had arthroscopic surgery for knee osteoarthritis fared no better than those who had sham surgery, as well as a 2008 study in which patients who had surgery for knee arthritis did no better than those who were treated with physical therapy and medication.

Still, there is a consensus that surgery is appropriate in some circumstances, especially for younger patients and for meniscus tears resulting from acute sports injuries. The question is whether surgery is the best route for the roughly 80% of tears that develop from wear and aging.

Jim Burger

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