Study design: Systematic review with meta-analysis.
Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of postoperative physical therapy treatment for patients who have undergone arthroscopic partial meniscectomy.
Background: There is no consensus on which treatment is best for patients post meniscectomy.
Methods: A search for articles published from 1950 to March 2013 was conducted in the MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, LILACS, SciELO, IBECS, Scopus, Web of Science, PEDro, Academic Search Premier, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases. The key words were physiotherapy, physical therapy modalities, exercise therapy, rehabilitation, knee, placebo, groups, tibial meniscus, meniscus, arthroscopy, meniscectomy, partial meniscectomy, randomized controlled trial, controlled clinical trial, randomized, systematic review, and meta-analysis.
Results: Eighteen randomized controlled trials were included in the review, 6 of which were included in the meta-analysis. Outpatient physical therapy plus a home exercise program, compared to a home program alone, improved function compared to a home program alone (mean difference, 10.3; 95% confidence interval: 1.3, 19.3; P = .02) and knee flexion range of motion (mean difference, 9.1; 95% confidence interval: 3.7, 14.5; P = .0009). Inpatient physical therapy alone compared to inpatient plus outpatient physical therapy reduced the likelihood of effusion (odds ratio = 0.25; 95% confidence interval: 0.10, 0.61; P = .003).
Conclusion: Physical therapy associated with home exercises seems to be effective in improving patient-reported knee function and range of motion in patients post-arthroscopic meniscectomy, although the included randomized controlled trials were classified from moderate to high risk of bias and should be interpreted with caution.
Level of evidence: Therapy, level 1a-.