Study finds knee surgery holds even in heavier patients

March 6, 2017, MediaSource
Dr. David Flanigan examines Steven Doukides three months after performing knee surgery on him at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Credit: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Meniscal repairs are one of the most common orthopedic surgeries in the U.S., but about 15 percent of them fail, requiring the patient to undergo a second surgery. Many have assumed that an increased body mass index (BMI) is a good predictor of whether a meniscal repair will fail, since more weight translates to more pressure on the knee joint.

However, a new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center shows that BMI has no effect on whether or not meniscus repair surgery will fail.

"This tells us that surgeons should not consider weight as a factor when deciding if a patient is a good candidate for surgery," Dr. David Flanigan, lead author of the study and orthopedic surgeon at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said. "If a meniscus is repairable and surgery is appropriate for that patient, you can do the surgery and they would have the same success as someone who is not as heavy."

The study, published in The Journal of Knee Surgery, followed 410 patients who underwent meniscal repair surgery from 2006 to 2012. The results showed there was no significant difference in the rate of failures in those with a normal BMI (less than 25) and those with an elevated BMI of 25 or higher.

Ninety percent of patients who were monitored had BMIs under 35, so it's unclear whether more severe obesity contributes to meniscal repair failure, but the study did prove that an increase BMI of 25 to 35 made no difference in whether the repair remained intact.

Success rates for meniscus surgery were similar for those with average and higher BMI Credit: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Surgeons often use risk factors like weight, activity level, type of meniscus tear and stability of the to determine which type of surgery to perform on a patient with a torn meniscus. If there is a good chance of the repair failing, the surgeon may opt to do a meniscectomy, a removal of part or all of the meniscus, which often leaves the patient with a less stable knee that is unable to withstand much activity and can lead to joint degradation.

Flanigan said research shows that repairing the meniscus whenever possible, as opposed to removing it, actually prevents knee issues in the future.

"That structure is so vital to the knee and provides a cushion to the joint," Flanigan said. "Repairing it can prevent some of the arthritic changes from progressing in the knee. So if a is repairable, I'm very aggressive to perform that procedure."

Explore further: Meniscal transplant in patients age 50 and under relieves pain, delays additional surgery

Related Stories

Meniscal transplant in patients age 50 and under relieves pain, delays additional surgery

August 5, 2015
Most patients younger than age 50 with a torn or severely damaged meniscus experienced reduced pain and improved knee function following transplant surgery, according to a study in the August 5 issue of the Journal of Bone ...

Experts outline importance of recognizing, treating meniscal root tears

November 15, 2016
The menisci, cartilage discs between the joint surfaces in the knee, play an important role in distributing stress across the curved surfaces of the knee. However, tears of the root of the meniscus have been increasingly ...

Knee surgery shows no benefit for people with mild osteoarthritis

August 25, 2014
A new study indicates that there is no apparent benefit to arthroscopic knee surgery for age-related tears of the meniscus in comparison with nonsurgical or sham treatments. The study, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical ...

Mesenchymal stem cells show promise for torn meniscus

December 22, 2016
(HealthDay)—Undifferentiated autologous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) seeded onto a collagen scaffold (MSC/collagen-scaffold) shows promise for patients with torn meniscus, according to a study published online Dec. 15 ...

Study questions value of common knee surgery

December 26, 2013
(HealthDay)—Improvements in knee pain following a common orthopedic procedure appear to be largely due to the placebo effect, a new Finnish study suggests.

Recommended for you

Cold open water plunge provides instant pain relief

February 12, 2018
A short, sharp, cold water swim may offer an alternative to strong painkillers and physiotherapy to relieve severe persistent pain after surgery, suggest doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Study spotlights risks in anesthesiologist handoffs

February 9, 2018
Most patients are totally unaware that the anesthesiologist who put them under for surgery might not be the same one who brings them out even though that 'handoff' between the two doctors has been linked to a series of negative ...

One in five older adults experience brain network weakening following knee replacement surgery

February 7, 2018
A new University of Florida study finds that 23 percent of adults age 60 and older who underwent a total knee replacement experienced a decline in activity in at least one region of the brain responsible for specific cognitive ...

New algorithm decodes spine oncology treatment

February 6, 2018
Every kind of cancer can spread to the spine, yet two physician-scientists who treat these patients describe a paucity of guidance for effectively providing care and minimizing pain.

Patients and doctors often disagree in evaluation of surgical scarring

February 1, 2018
When it comes to the physical scars surgery leaves behind, a new study shows patients and doctors often don't assess their severity the same way. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania ...

Boosting a key protein to help bones that won't heal

February 1, 2018
When a patient breaks a bone, there's a possibility the fracture won't heal properly or quickly—even with the aid of pins, plates or a cast.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.