A recent study has found knee arthroscopy procedures for knee joint meniscal injuries give patients improved function and less pain, despite recent publications questioning the value of this procedure.

Some recently published reviews have raised concerns about the effectiveness of knee arthroscopy, particularly in patients who have knee osteoarthritis.

A retrospective study conducted by orthopaedic surgeons Mr Benjamin Jeffcote and Mr Mark Hurworth at St John of God Murdoch Hospital demonstrates otherwise; that the procedure results in significant improvement in the majority of patients.

“We evaluated the changes in symptoms and function in patients who had knee pain and meniscal tears, three months following their knee arthroscopy,” Mr Jeffcote says.

“One of the important findings of the study was that in patients with and without knee osteoarthritis, there are some specific symptoms that improved more than others.”

“Specifically, the greatest improvements were in pain, locking and stability of the knee.”

“This suggests that there are some specific clinical features of knee pain disorders for which arthroscopy is likely to be of significant benefit.”

However, the study did find, as some publications have suggested, that the overall outcomes were less favourable in patients who had significant knee osteoarthritis.

Knee arthroscopy is a surgical technique that can diagnose and treat problems in the knee joint such as a torn meniscus or a ligament injury.

The surgeon makes a small incision and inserts a tiny camera (an arthroscope) into the knee, enabling them to view the inside of the joint on a screen.

The surgeon can then investigate a problem with the knee and, if necessary, correct the issue using small instruments introduced through the arthroscope.

Research Operations Manager Steve Edmondston says the results of this study form the basis of a larger prospective study with long-term follow-up, which will examine arthroscopy outcomes in subgroups of patients with specific knee problems.

“We hope the study will help identify which patients with knee pain and meniscal pathology are most likely to benefit from knee arthroscopy surgery,” Dr Edmondston says.

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