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Surgery Doesn't Promise Decreased Risk of Osteoarthritis

Researchers found that repairing a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or meniscal cartilage injury in the knee does not decrease the chances of developing osteoarthritis.

Researchers found that repairing a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or meniscal cartilage injury in the knee does not decrease the chances of developing osteoarthritis.

The findings are based on a study published in the online edition of the journal Radiology.

Localized knee osteoarthritis was found in patients that received an injury a decade earlier, regardless of whether or not they had the injury repaired surgically.

"This study proves that meniscal and cruciate ligament lesions increase the risk of developing specific types of knee osteoarthritis," said Kasper Huétink, M.D., the study's lead author and resident radiologist at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, in a press release. "Surgical therapy does not decrease that risk."

Knee osteoarthritis affects more than nine million Americans and typically develops over several years.

The recent study included information from the database of a previous multicenter study of 855 patients, which was conducted from 1996-1997 and focused on evaluating the diagnostic value of knee MRI relative to arthroscopy in patients with knee pain.

Researchers working on the recent study followed up with 326 of the orginal 855 patients and found that all of these patients had experienced knee pain for four weeks or more prior to the initial MRI and treatment. The research team took current follw-up x-rays and MRI exams to compare to the initial findings and differences in treatment.

The results demonstrated that patients with ACL and meniscus tears are at greater risk for developing osteoarthritis. Surgical intervention, specifically a meniscectomy, did not reduce that risk.

Researcher Huetnik concluded that long-term and short-term clinical benefits of partial meniscectomy vs. meniscal repair procedures should be further investigated.

"There is a higher risk of developing knee osteoarthritis at specific sites after tearing a meniscus or cruciate ligament," Dr. Huétink said, in a press release. "We showed a direct relationship between injury and long-term consequences, and showed that surgery has no impact on long-term outcomes."