Knee Replacement Outcome Data Falls Short
You might think we know that the knee replacements that surgeons perform everyday work very well, after all we perform 600,000 of these procedures annually. These are invasive surgeries using FDA approved knee replacement devices that are paid for by every insurance company. While there is some data from various studies, a recent large study that looked at long-term data was very disappointing. In fact, it argues that we should be looking at knee replacement alternatives. A recent Lancet article raised some concerns about the wide range of patients who were receiving total knee replacement surgeries. Their concern was that these were not only patients who were disabled by knee pain, but also a host of patients with only mild symptoms. I‘ve blogged before on this issue of joint replacement device manufacturers aiming their advertisements at a younger and more active population with knee pain. The study author noted that the growing number of younger people undergoing knee replacement surgery is something of a mystery (IMHO called advertising). In fact they noted that an international panel found that surgeons’ recommendations for knee replacement were not correlated with pain, disability, or radiographic severity. The study author commented that only patients with longstanding pain at night or pain with weightbearing (just walking) should undergo the invasive surgery. Finally, the authors noted that knee replacement alternatives that are non-surgical should receive major research attention. Sound familiar?