Knee surgery is common among older adults who want to remove damaged cartilage in their knees. However, a new American study suggests that these operations may not help ease pain or improve mobility in people over 65.
For their study, the researchers focused on a procedure called arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, which involves cutting out or shaving torn or damaged tissue. Past studies have suggested that younger patients with severely damaged cartilage may benefit from this operation, but that it may not work any better than physical therapy for most people, especially when they're over 65.
The researchers published their study in the journal JAMA Surgery. Keep reading for more.
Despite the lack of benefit, arthroscopic partial meniscectomy procedures are widely performed…
The study revealed that more than 12,000 surgeons performed almost 122,000 arthroscopic partial meniscectomy procedures for patients insured by Medicare, the American health programme for people 65 and older, in 2015.
“This study shows that it remains extremely common in older patients,” said senior study author Dr Martin Makary, a surgery professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “However, its benefit is limited to a small subset of patients who are usually younger.”
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Researchers don’t know why so many seniors are getting an operation that’s unlikely to help them
However, the researchers say it’ possible that some doctors and patients aren’t yet aware of the numerous randomised controlled studies published in recent years that show that arthroscopic partial meniscectomy procedures lack benefit.
“Despite evidence, there’s still a very strong belief by many surgeons and patients that the surgery is effective,” explained Jonas Bloch Thorlund, a sports medicine researcher at the University of Southern Denmark who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Indeed, many patients do get better. However, this is more likely due to the placebo effect, a natural remission, or a phenomenon called regression to mean – when people experiencing extreme pain
before surgery report only an average pain
afterwards,” he added.
The takeaway here is you should think twice before booking yourself in for knee surgery. For more information on the procedure and the benefits and risks of it, consult your doctor.
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