OBJECTIVES: To compare patient reported outcomes from before surgery to 52 weeks after surgery between individuals undergoing arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for traumatic meniscal tears and those for degenerative meniscal tears.
DESIGN: Comparative prospective cohort study.
SETTING: Four public orthopaedic departments in the Region of Southern Denmark. Participants were recruited between 1 February 2013 and 31 January 2014, and at one of the original four hospitals from 1 February 2014 to 31 January 2015.
PARTICIPANTS: Individuals selected from Knee Arthroscopy Cohort Southern Denmark, aged 18-55, and undergoing arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for a traumatic or degenerative meniscal tear (defined by a combination of age and symptom onset).
INTERVENTIONS: Both participant groups underwent arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for a meniscal tear, with operating surgeons recording relevant information on knee pathology. Patient reported outcomes were recorded via online questionnaires.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcome was the average between-group difference in change on four of five subscales of the knee injury and osteoarthritis outcome score (KOOS). The four subscales covered pain, symptoms, sport and recreational function, and quality of life (KOOS4). A 95% confidence interval excluding differences greater than 10 KOOS points between groups was interpreted as absence of a clinically meaningful difference. Analyses adjusted for age, sex, and body mass index.
RESULTS: 397 eligible adults (42% women) with a traumatic or degenerative meniscal tear (n=141, mean age 38.7 years (standard deviation 10.9); n=256, 46.6 years (6.4); respectively) were included in the main analysis. At 52 weeks after arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, 55 (14%) patients were lost to follow-up. Statistically, participants with degenerative meniscal tears had a significantly larger improvement in KOOS4 scores than those with traumatic tears (adjusted between-group difference -5.1 (95% confidence interval -8.9 to -1.3); P=0.008). In the analysis including KOOS4 score at all time points, a significant time-by-group interaction was observed in both the unadjusted (P=0.025) and adjusted analysis (P=0.024), indicating better self-reported outcomes in participants with degenerative tears. However, the difference between groups was at no time point considered clinically meaningful.
CONCLUSIONS: These results question the current tenet that patients with traumatic meniscal tears experience greater improvements in patient reported outcomes after arthroscopic partial meniscectomy than patients with degenerative tears.Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01871272.