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Incidence of total knee arthroplasty after arthroscopic surgery for knee osteoarthritis: a secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial


Importance — It is unclear whether arthroscopic resection of degenerative knee tissues among patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee delays or hastens total knee arthroplasty (TKA); opposite findings have been reported.

Objective — To compare the long-term incidence of TKA in patients with OA of the knee after nonoperative management with or without additional arthroscopic surgery.

Design, Setting, and Participants — In this ad hoc secondary analysis of a single-center, assessor-blinded randomized clinical trial performed from January 1, 1999, to August 31, 2007, 178 patients were followed up through March 31, 2019. Participants included adults diagnosed with OA of the knee referred for potential arthroscopic surgery in a tertiary care center specializing in orthopedics in London, Ontario, Canada. All participants from the original randomized clinical trial were included. Data were analyzed from June 1, 2021, to October 20, 2022.

Exposures — Arthroscopic surgery (resection or debridement of degenerative tears of the menisci, fragments of articular cartilage, or chondral flaps and osteophytes that prevented full extension) plus nonoperative management (physical therapy plus medications as required) compared with nonoperative management only (control).

Main Outcomes and Measures — Total knee arthroplasty was identified by linking the randomized trial data with prospectively collected Canadian health administrative datasets where participants were followed up for a maximum of 20 years. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to compare the incidence of TKA between intervention groups.

Results — A total of 178 of 277 eligible patients (64.3%; 112 [62.9%] female; mean [SD] age, 59.0 [10.0] years) were included. The mean (SD) body mass index was 31.0 (6.5). With a median follow-up of 13.8 (IQR, 8.4-16.8) years, 31 of 92 patients (33.7%) in the arthroscopic surgery group vs 36 of 86 (41.9%) in the control group underwent TKA (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 0.85 [95% CI, 0.52-1.40]). Results were similar when accounting for crossovers to arthroscopic surgery (13 of 86 [15.1%]) during follow-up (HR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.53-1.44]). Within 5 years, the cumulative incidence was 10.2% vs 9.3% in the arthroscopic surgery group and control group, respectively (time-stratified HR for 0-5 years, 1.06 [95% CI, 0.41-2.75]); within 10 years, the cumulative incidence was 23.3% vs 21.4%, respectively (time-stratified HR for 5-10 years, 1.06 [95% CI, 0.45-2.51]). Sensitivity analyses yielded consistent results.

Conclusions and Relevance — In this secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial of arthroscopic surgery for patients with OA of the knee, a statistically significant association with delaying or hastening TKA was not identified. Approximately 80% of patients did not undergo TKA within 10 years of nonoperative management with or without additional knee arthroscopic surgery.



Birmingham TB, Primeau CA, Shariff SZ, Reid JNS, Marsh JD, Lam M, Dixon SN, Giffin JR, Willits KR,  Litchfield RB, Feagan BG, Fowler PJ. JAMA Netw Open. 2024; 7(4):e246578. Epub 2024 Apr 18.

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