Researchers at the recent annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America presented data showing that knees undergoing surgery for meniscal tears are at higher risk of developing radiographically evident osteoarthritis one year postsurgery than knees with meniscal damage that do not undergo surgery. Presenter Frank Roemer, MD said the retrospective study found that, relative to non-arthritic knees, the risk of cartilage loss was significantly increased for knees exhibiting any prevalent meniscal damage without surgery (odds ratio = 1.5), and markedly further increased for meniscally damaged knees that had surgery (odds ratio = 13.1).
Nevertheless, many people undergoing meniscal surgery benefit clinically, especially if they experienced locking of the knee before surgery. Also, people found to have “radiographic” osteoarthritis may not experience the pain or mobility limitations seen with clinically evident arthritis. Still, Roemer concluded that patients and their doctors should include the possibility of accelerated onset of arthritis when discussing the pros and cons of meniscal surgery.