Common Knee Surgery Does Very Little

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According to an article in the NY Times, a form of knee surgery, the most common form of orthopedic surgery in the US is ineffective for most people. This is not new news. This surgery should have been curtailed years ago.

The surgery in question, done 700,000 times a year in America, is arthroscopic surgery on the meniscus of the knee.

Per the article, “The new research builds on a groundbreaking 2002 Texas study, showing that patients receiving arthroscopy for knee osteoarthritis fared no better than those receiving sham surgery. A 2008 Canadian study found that patients undergoing surgery for knee arthritis did no better than those having physical therapy and taking medication.” Despite those studies and others done earlier in Europe, this remains the most common orthopedic surgery in America. This is shameful.

Further, a study done in Finland shows physical therapy works as well as the surgery. Other studies in Europe have shown that leaving the knee alone is better than surgery. Alas.

What do you do? If you’ve been reading this blog, you know what to do: Demand surgeons who overdo this surgery be purged from your PPO and send your employees to doctors who don’t do this junk surgery except very rarely.


First posted on Cracking Health Costs 12/26/2013.

Thomas G. Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting, LLC and Host of Cracking Health Costs. Tom´s years with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Burger King Corporation, British Petroleum, and American Fidelity Assurance Company have provided an excellent blend of experience and contacts. His last position with Wal-Mart was Vice President, Global Benefit Design. Tom has served on a variety of employer coalitions and associations, including being on the board of the influential National Business Group on Health, the U. S. Chamber of Commerce Benefit Committee, and many others. Frequently in demand as a speaker for benefits and health care conferences, such as the internationally known World Health Care Congress, Tom´s topics include strategic health plan design, global health care challenges, health care economics, and evidence-based medicine.

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