Torn cartilage patients unlikely to benefit from knee surgery — 3 insights

Written by Eric Oliver | March 08, 2019 | Print  |

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed treatment options for patients with torn cartilage and knee pain.

Researchers conducted a systematic review of 10 trials of adults with meniscal tears: seven non-surgical, one pharmacological and two surgical. Findings were limited by small sample size.

What they found:

1. Patients receiving arthroscopic partial meniscectomy had a small mean improvement in knee pain (five studies, 943 patients).

2. Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy patients also had a small improvement in knee-specific quality of life (three trials, 350 patients) and knee function (six trials, 1,050 patients).

3. When restricted to people without osteoarthritis, patients receiving arthroscopic partial meniscectomy had a small to moderate improvement in knee pain (three trials, 402 patients), knee-specific quality of life (two trials, 244 patients) and knee function (four trials, 507 patients).

Researchers concluded, "Performing arthroscopic partial meniscectomy in all patients with knee pain and a meniscal tear is not appropriate, and surgical treatment should not be considered the first-line intervention. There may, however, be a small-to-moderate benefit from arthroscopic partial meniscectomy compared with physiotherapy for patients without osteoarthritis."

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