Background: Arthroscopic meniscal surgery is the most common orthopedic procedure, and the incidence has increased in Denmark over the last 10 years. Concomitantly, several randomized controlled trials have shown no benefit of arthroscopic procedures including arthroscopic partial meniscectomy in middle-aged and older individuals suffering from knee pain with or without knee osteoarthritis. We examined the annual incidence of meniscal procedures together with age, sex, and diagnosis for patients who underwent meniscal procedures in the period 2000-2011 in Denmark.
Methods: Data on age, sex, diagnosis, and surgical procedures were extracted from the Danish National Patient Register for the years 2000-2011, for all records containing meniscal surgery as a primary or secondary procedure.
Results: The overall annual incidence of meniscal procedures per 100,000 persons in Denmark doubled from 164 in 2000 to 312 in 2011 (i.e. 8,750 procedures to 17,368 procedures). A 2-fold increase was found for patients aged between 35 and 55, and a 3-fold increase was found for those older than 55. Middle-aged and older patients accounted for 75% of all 151,228 meniscal procedures carried out between 2000 and 2011.
Interpretation: The incidence of meniscal procedures performed in Denmark doubled from 2000 to 2011, with the largest increase in middle-aged and older patients. This increase contrasts with the mounting evidence showing no added benefit of arthroscopic partial meniscectomy over non-surgical treatments. Our observations illustrate the long delay in the dissemination, acceptance, and implementation of research evidence into the practice of arthroscopic surgery.