Arthroscopic washout of the knee: a procedure in decline

Knee. 2014 Mar;21(2):631-4. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2014.02.014.


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is a chronic, progressive condition which often requires surgical intervention. The evidence for the benefits of arthroscopic debridement or washout for knee OA is weak and arthroscopy is currently only indicated in the UK if there is a history of mechanical locking of the knee.

Objectives: To investigate whether there has been any change in the number of arthroscopies performed in the UK since the 2007 NICE guidance on knee arthroscopy and the 2008 Cochrane review of arthroscopic debridement for OA of the knee.

Methods: We interrogated data from the Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) database with Office of Population Censuses and Surveys-4 (OPSC-4) codes pertaining to therapeutic endoscopic operations in the 60-74 year old and 75 and over age groups.

Results: The number of arthroscopic knee interventions in the UK decreased overall from 2000 to 2012, with arthroscopic irrigations decreasing the most by 39.6 per 100,000 population (80%). However, the number of arthroscopic meniscal resections increased by 105.3 per 100,000 (230%) population. These trends were mirrored in both the 60-74 and 75 and over age groups.

Conclusions: Knee arthroscopy in the 60-74 and 75 and over age groups appears to be decreasing but there is still a large and increasing number of arthroscopic meniscal resections being performed.

Keywords: Arthroscopic washout; Arthroscopy; Endoscopic irrigation; Knee; Washout.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Arthroscopy / trends*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / statistics & numerical data
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / trends*
  • United Kingdom