Objective: There is no evidence that a knee arthroscopy is more beneficial to middle-aged patients with meniscal symptoms compared to other treatments. This randomised controlled trial aimed to determine whether an arthroscopic intervention combined with a structured exercise programme would provide more benefit than a structured exercise programme alone for middle-aged patients with meniscal symptoms that have undergone physiotherapy.
Method: 150 out of 179 eligible patients, aged 45 to 64 (mean:54 ± 5), symptom duration more than 3 months and standing X-ray with Ahlbäck grade 0, were randomised to: (1) a physiotherapy appointment within 2 weeks of inclusion that included instructions for a 3-month exercise programme (non-surgery group); or (2) the same as (1) plus, within 4 weeks of inclusion, knee arthroscopy for resection of any significant meniscal injuries (surgery group). The primary outcome was change in pain at 12 months, assessed with the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOSPAIN).
Results: In the Intention-To-Treat analysis, pain at 12 months was significantly lower in the surgery than in the non-surgery group. The change in KOOSPAIN was significantly larger in the surgery than in the non-surgery group (between-group difference was 10.6 points of change; 95% CI: 3.4 to 17.7, P = 0.004). The As-Treated analysis results were consistent with the Intention-To-Treat analysis results.
Conclusion: Middle-aged patients with meniscal symptoms may benefit from arthroscopic surgery in addition to a structured exercise programme. Patients' age or symptom history (i.e., mechanical symptoms or acute onset of symptoms) didn't affect the outcome.
Trial registration: NCT01288768.
Keywords: Knee arthroscopy; Meniscectomy; Menisci.
Copyright © 2014 Osteoarthritis Research Society International. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.