Osteoarthritis Patients Don't Benefit From Arthroscopic Surgery

Armen Hareyan's picture

Osteoarthritis patients do not really benefit from arthroscopic surgery, which is a common treatment method for knee patients.

Knee patients suffering from osteoarthritis usually experience pain and weakened joint function. They are being treated by physical therapy, medication, and arthroscopic surgery. This surgery is not very invasive - a small arthroscope (long, thin, fiberoptic tube) and a few other instruments are being inserted into the joint. The instruments remove cartilage fragments and make joint surfaces smoother. The surgery is easy to perform and is widely acceptable.


The research was conducted by a joint team of researchers from Clinical Trials Group at Robarts Research Institute and Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic at London Health Sciences Centre. The team involved rheumatologists, physiotherapists and was aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of arthroscopic surgery as osteoarthritis treatment.

Researchers looked at 178 patients at their 60s, who were treated during the period between 1999 and 2007. All of them received physical therapy and standard medications (ibuprofen or acetaminophen), but 86 of them underwent arthroscopic surgery in addition to common treatment methods. During the study researchers were repeatedly looking at patients to see how the process of joint improvement is going and they found that there is no difference between those who received a surgery and who did not.

Researchers concluded that arthroscopic surgery is useless for osteoarthritis, but it is effective for other conditions, like meniscal repair / resection, ligament reconstruction. Thus, osteoarthritis don't need to undergo the surgery, and there is need of developing better treatment methods for them.