Arthroscopic Meniscal Surgery Versus Conservative Management in Patients Aged 40 Years and Older: A Meta-Analysis

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2018 Dec;138(12):1731-1739. doi: 10.1007/s00402-018-2991-0. Epub 2018 Jul 4.


Introduction: The efficacy of arthroscopic meniscus surgery in old aged patients remains controversial. The purpose of the present study was to review published studies comparing arthroscopic meniscal surgery with conservative management to treat meniscal injuries in patients 40 years of age and older.

Materials and methods: Several electronic databases were queried for articles published until July 2017 that evaluated outcomes of arthroscopic meniscal surgery in patients aged 40 years and older. Data searches, extraction, analysis, and quality assessment were performed according to the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines, and the clinical outcomes were evaluated using various outcome values. The results are presented as the standard mean difference (SMD) for continuous outcomes with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results: Nine randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included. There were no significant differences in clinical outcomes such as relief in knee pain (SMD = 0.01, 95% CIs = - 0.15 to 0.18, I2 = 38%) and improved knee function (SMD = 0.01, 95% CIs = - 0.19 to 0.21, I2 = 57%) between arthroscopic meniscal surgery and conservative management for degenerative meniscal tears.

Conclusions: The efficacy of arthroscopic surgery was not superior to conservative management in this type of patients. Therefore, arthroscopic meniscal surgery should not be recommended as a first choice of treatment for degenerative meniscal tears. In patients over 40 years of age, arthroscopic surgery should be cautiously considered for degenerative meniscal tears and only when there has not been a satisfactory response to conservative management.

Keywords: Arthroscopy; Conservative treatment; Knee joint; Meniscus; Meta-analysis; Middle aged.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy / methods*
  • Conservative Treatment / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome