One of the most common types of knee surgery performed in the U.S. is no more effective than fake surgery, at least for the first year, according to a new study.
The new evidence should give doctors pause before they try to repair the meniscus, which cushions the bones of the knee, according to the Finnish doctors behind the research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The experiment involved 146 volunteers whose knee pain appeared to be caused by wear and tear of that cushion. None of the participants had a recognized injury or osteoarthritis, both situations for which the surgery is already known to be ineffective.
After 12 months, the average improvement among the people who received real surgery and those who got "sham" surgery was essentially the same, said the research team, led by Dr. Teppo Jarvinen of University of Helsinki.
There was no significant improvement in knee pain after exercise and no sizable improvement in the likelihood that a patient would require subsequent knee surgery.