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The role for arthroscopic partial meniscectomy in knees with degenerative changes

a systematic review

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Patients with osteoarthritis of the knee commonly have degenerative meniscal tears. Arthroscopic meniscectomy is frequently performed, although the benefits are debatable. Recent studies have concluded that there is no role for arthroscopic washout in osteoarthritis of the knee. Our aim was to perform a systematic review to assess the evidence for the efficacy of arthroscopic meniscectomy in patients with meniscal tears and degenerative changes in the knee.

Patients and Methods

A literature search was performed, using the PubMed/MEDLINE database, for relevant articles published between 1975 and 2015. A total of six studies, including five randomised controlled trials and one cross-sectional study of a prospective cohort, met the inclusion criteria. Relevant information including study design, operations, the characteristics of the patients, outcomes, adverse events and further operations were extracted.


The degree of osteoarthritis in the patients who were included and the rate of cross over from one form of treatment to another varied in the studies. Two randomised controlled trials showed a benefit of arthroscopic surgery in patients with limited degenerative joint disease, compared with conservative treatment. One cross-sectional study showed that patients with less severe degenerative changes had better outcomes.


Patients with symptomatic meniscal tears and degenerative changes in the knee can benefit from arthroscopic meniscectomy, particularly if the osteoarthritis is mild. A trial of conservative management may be effective and should be considered, especially in patients with moderate osteoarthritis.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2016;98-B:934–8.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr R. H. Brophy; e-mail:

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