Posted on Dec 28, 2013

Knee surgery is quite common, especially among athletes and the elderly. But a new study shows that a certain type of knee surgery may be a sham.

CBS reports on sham knee surgeries.

“About 700,000 people may be getting a knee surgery each year that doesn’t work as well as they had hoped, new research suggests. In fact, it may be no better than a ‘sham’ procedure,” according to CBS.

CBS explains what the surgery consists of and how it is conducted.

The article reports, “The surgery is an arthroscopic procedure called a partial meniscectomy, and doctors perform it to relieve pain and other symptoms associated with a tear in the knee’s meniscus -- the cartilage that helps cushion the knee. But a new study that randomized people to receive either the surgery or a “sham” procedure that simulated it found no difference between pain symptoms or other measures of quality of life between the two groups.”

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The authors told CBS, “These results argue against the current practice of performing arthroscopic partial meniscectomy in patients with a degenerative meniscal tear. This surgery -- which amounts to about $4 billion in annual U.S. medical costs -- may be no more effective at relieving symptoms than rest, exercise and over-the-counter pain killers.”

CBS sheds light on the people used in the study and how they felt, “Researchers enrolled 146 patients between the ages of 35 and 65 who had knee pain for at least three months in a trial in which they were randomized to either undergo an arthroscopic partial meniscectomy or a ‘sham’ procedure that mimics an arthroscopy, in which a blade-less mechanized shaver was pushed up against the outside of the knee with suction in an operating room. The sham group was held in the operating and recovery rooms for the same amount of times as the surgery group, and all patients received the same walking aids and instructions for exercises, taking over-the-counter painkillers as required. There were no significant differences between the real surgery group and the sham group. Patients in the sham-surgery group were not significantly more likely than patients in the partial-meniscectomy group to guess that they had undergone a sham procedure either.”

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Gerry Oginski
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