Middle Age Patients and Knee Arthroscopy

Middle Age Patients and Knee Arthroscopy

Is knee arthroscopy a viable option for people impacted by some of the most common knee problems? According to a recent study published by The New England Journal of Medicine, this type of surgical intervention doesn’t always yield the best results for middle-aged patients, and isn’t much more beneficial than fake operations or physical therapy when it comes to relieving knee pain or improving knee function. The study involved the participation of patients with a torn meniscus. At this point, according to the data provided by The New York Times, arthroscopic surgery done on the meniscus is a common procedure performed around 700,000 times on an annual basis in the U.S., totaling costs estimated at approximately $4 billion.

The Basics of Knee Arthroscopy 

During this procedure, small incisions are made to accommodate the small camera that the doctor uses to see inside the injured knee. Small tools are used to trim the torn surface, remove loose bone fragments, and smooth the edges. While the study conducted in Finland does not claim or prove that this type of surgery is always ineffective, it does indicate that knee arthroscopy should be seen as a viable option for younger patients, especially those who are dealing with accurate sports injuries. Nonetheless, in most causes tears are the result of wear and tear associated with the natural aging process; in this situation, researchers have reached the conclusion that surgery should be limited, given its reduced effectiveness.

Knee Arthroscopy May Not Be Best for Middle-Aged Patients

All the volunteers participating in this study received incisions and aesthesis; however, while a group underwent surgery, the second one only benefitted from simulated procedures. Study participants were not told which group they were a part of. A year later, volunteers from both groups affirmed that their knees showed signs of improvement; moreover, the vast majority declared that they would actually repeat the experience, even if the procedure was stimulated. According to some orthopedics, the findings of this study suggest that arthroscopy isn’t always going to change people’s lives the best, especially when patients are middle-aged. At the same time, some specialists firmly believe that arthroscopic meniscectomy yields great results in appropriate patients; and are inclined to think that further research will help them come up with the most accurate definition of the “ideal patient”.

Many people who experience knee pain suffer from a meniscal tear. Nonetheless, doctors aren’t always able to guarantee that the tear is the sole cause of pain, and even if they could, they wouldn’t be able to promote surgery as a 100% foolproof method to address this symptom.

Surgery meant to eliminate meniscal pain in middle-aged people is not the best option at hand, especially if the patient isn’t reporting any kind of mechanical symptoms. Furthermore, a 2002 Texas study reveals that patients who underwent arthroscopy knee osteoarthritis did not show more significant signs of improvement than the ones who benefitted from sham surgery. A study conducted in Canada in 2008 reveals similar facts, indicating that people undergoing surgical interventions to treat knee arthritis didn’t feel better than the ones who opted for medication and physical therapy. These findings have convinced many surgeons to avoid performing surgery on middle-aged people who only suffer from knee arthritis.

In conclusion, according to the researches involved in the studies mentioned above, arthroscopic surgery done to treat osteoarthritis of the knee doesn’t provide any additional benefits when compared with optimized medical and physical therapy.

Dr. Bryan has been in practice for over thirty five years at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. He earned a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland before graduating with his M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.