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Fake Knee Surgery as Good as Real Surgery
The July 10, 2002 issue of the
New England Journal of Medicine
published a study that found one of the most common arthroscopic knee operations produced the same amount of pain relief as fake knee surgery.
In the study, 180 patients with knee pain received one of three types of treatment:
· Debridement, which cuts away damaged cartilage.
· Arthroscopic lavage, which flushes damaged cartilage and debris out the knee joint.
· Simulated arthroscopic surgery where small incisions were made but no instruments were inserted into the joint and no cartilage was removed.
None of the patients were told whether or not they had real or simulated surgery during the two years of follow-up care.
Patients in all three groups regained about the same amount of function and experienced the same amount of pain relief. None of the patients who had one of the two surgical procedures done reported less pain or more function that the simulated surgical group.
In fact, the simulated group reported better results than the debridement patients at certain points during the follow-up period.
Lead researcher, Dr. Nelda Wray of the Baylor College of Medicine said, “The fact that the effectiveness of arthroscopic lavage or debridement in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee is no greater than that of placebo surgery makes us question whether the dollars spent on these procedures might not be put to better use.”