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Arthritis Treatment – Arthroscopy

June 1, 2011
Knee Arthroscopy

Knee Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which an examination and sometimes treatment of damage to the interior of a joint is performed using an arthroscope, a small camera.  The “scope” is inserted into the joint through a small incision.

The advantage of arthroscopy over traditional open surgery is that the joint does not have to be completely opened.   Instead, two small incisions are made – one for the arthroscope and one for the surgical instruments to be used in the knee cavity to fully remove the knee cap.

Though arthroscopic surgery is widely recommended by the orthopedic community to treat knee osteoarthritis, the usefulness of the surgery is doubtful. A study on arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002. In this three-group study, 180 military veterans with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to receive arthroscopic debridement with lavage, just arthroscopic lavage, or a sham surgery, which made superficial incisions to the skin while pretending to do the surgery. The study reported, “At no point did either of the intervention groups report less pain or better function than the placebo group. Because there is no confirmed usefulness for these surgeries, many agencies are reconsidering paying for a surgery which seems to create risks with no benefit.”

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