KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Does Not Provide Lasting Relief, Panel Says

A group of international health experts says that fewer than 15 percent of patients feel an improvement in pain and function three months after the procedure -- which is the world's most common surgery -- and that those effects usually disappear after one year.

Stat: This Orthopedic Surgery Is The World's Most Common. But Patients Rarely Benefit, A Panel Says
That’s the conclusion of an international panel that strongly recommends against arthroscopic surgery in a new guideline published by the BMJ. The panel found that, while performed 2 million times per year worldwide, knee arthroscopy offers minimal benefits to patients with degenerative knee disease, which affects about 25 percent of people older than 50. The surgery’s persistence may have to do with a combination of financial incentives, patient frustration at more conservative approaches, and delays in incorporating new evidence into current practice, the panel said. (Ross, 5/10)

Kaiser Health News: For Knee Pain, Experts Say Don’t Think About Scoping It
A panel of international health experts and patients Wednesday challenged the effectiveness of one of the most common orthopedic procedures and recommended strongly against the use of arthroscopic surgery for patients with degenerative knee problems. The guidelines, published in the journal BMJ, relied on 13 studies involving nearly 1,700 patients that found the surgery did not provide lasting pain relief or improve function. Those studies compared the surgery with a variety of options, including physical therapy, exercise and even placebo surgery. (Heredia Rodriguez, 5/10)

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