The evidence on arthroscopic knee surgery

KneeAcross the globe, more than 4 million people get arthroscopic knee surgery every year to help relieve the pain associated with arthritis and torn cartilage. But a new systematic review questions the benefits of minimally-invasive knee surgery.

The meta-analysis was published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers reviewed nine randomized-controlled trials with a total of 1,270 participants from age 50 to 63 years old. All of the studies assessed the benefits of arthroscopic surgery to remove damaged tissue or torn cartilage compared to control groups of people receiving a range of interventions ranging such as physical therapy or even placebo surgery. The studies followed participants for periods of time ranging from three to 24 months.

During minimally-invasive knee surgery, a doctor inserts a small camera and surgical tools into the knee joint through small incisions. He can use these tools to diagnose a knee problem and trim or repair damaged tissue in the knee.

The reviewers found arthroscopic knee surgery was no better than other options for improving physical function. The surgery did help to relieve knee pain, but only over the short term, but only for up to six months. After that, patients reported no significant difference in levels of knee pain. The surgery also comes with some risks, including risks associated with anesthesia, along with blood clots and infection.

The take-home message: This is a case where a very popular medical procedure is not as effective as initially thought. The evidence shows that arthroscopic knee surgery provides some pain relief in the short-term, but does not provide any long-term benefits. Given the risks of knee surgery, the evidence shows that minimally -invasive knee surgery is not effective for  middle-aged and older adults with knee pain.


  1. Sunil says:

    An knee arthroscopy is a type of keyhole surgery used both to diagnose and treat problems with joints.
    It’smost commonly used on the knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hips. An knee arthroscopy involves the use of a device called an arthroscope to examine the joints. This is a thin, metal tube about the length and width of a drinking straw that contains a light source and a camera. Images are sent from the arthroscope to a video screen or an eyepiece, so the surgeon is able to see inside the joint.

  2. Your doctor or surgeon will advise you how to prepare for your surgery. Be sure to tell them about any prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, or supplements that you’re currently taking. You may need to stop taking certain medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, for weeks or days before the procedure.Knee arthroscopy requires a proper care. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe you a pain medication for any discomfort you experience after the surgery. You should fill this prescription ahead of time so that you have it ready after the procedure.

Speak Your Mind


Skip to toolbar