Patients With Arthritis Rarely Benefit from Arthroscopic Surgery

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Arthroscopic surgery does not help most patients with arthritis – the degenerative knee damage, a panel of experts has claimed. Keyhole knee surgery performed every year on a stupendous number of patients with arthritic knee is just a waste of time and money as it doesn’t actually help treat the painful condition, the panel affirmed.

Arthroscopic surgery is a type of keyhole or a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can help surgeons diagnose and treat problems in the knee joint. In this surgical technique, a very small incision is made through which a tiny camera, called an arthroscope, is inserted into the affected knee, which allows surgeons to clearly view the inside of the joint on a screen.

But an international panel of bone surgeons, physiotherapists, clinicians and patients challenged the effectiveness of popular knee arthroscopic surgery and strongly suggested against the use of arthroscopic surgery for patients with osteoarthritis – the degenerative knee disease.

The panel of experts found that knee arthroscopy offers almost no relief to patients with degenerative knee disease. The keyhole knee surgery exposes patients to unnecessary risk, experts claim.

The panel reviewed 25 studies involving more than 1.8 million patients and concluded that people who undergo surgery do not see significant reduction in “long term pain” or improvement in function and mobility.

The review showed, fewer than 15 percent of patients reported an improvement in pain and mobility in their knee three months after the keyhole surgery. But the effects disappeared one year post operation. What’s more, the surgery exposed patients to rare but significant risk of infection.

And when they compared the efficacy of the surgery with that of a variety of conventional methods, including physical therapy, exercise and even placebo surgery, they found this surgical procedure was no better after two years than exercise, weight loss and painkillers.

The team writes: “We make a strong recommendation against the use of arthroscopy in nearly all patients with degenerative knee disease based on linked systematic reviews.”

The panel affirmed that additional research is unlikely to alter their recommendation.

“Despite those personal experiences that say it might be doing good, the evidence suggests that it might not be doing any good. You could do another trial, but it’s almost certain to show the same thing,” asserted Dr. Reed Siemieniuk, chair of the panel and a physician at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

The panel’s recommendations were published Wednesday (May 10) in the journal BMJ.

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