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Arthroscopic meniscal surgery versus conservative management in patients aged 40 years and older: a meta-analysis



The efficacy of arthroscopic meniscus surgery in old aged patients remains controversial. The purpose of the present study was to review published studies comparing arthroscopic meniscal surgery with conservative management to treat meniscal injuries in patients 40 years of age and older.

Materials and methods

Several electronic databases were queried for articles published until July 2017 that evaluated outcomes of arthroscopic meniscal surgery in patients aged 40 years and older. Data searches, extraction, analysis, and quality assessment were performed according to the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines, and the clinical outcomes were evaluated using various outcome values. The results are presented as the standard mean difference (SMD) for continuous outcomes with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Nine randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included. There were no significant differences in clinical outcomes such as relief in knee pain (SMD = 0.01, 95% CIs = − 0.15 to 0.18, I2 = 38%) and improved knee function (SMD = 0.01, 95% CIs = − 0.19 to 0.21, I2 = 57%) between arthroscopic meniscal surgery and conservative management for degenerative meniscal tears.


The efficacy of arthroscopic surgery was not superior to conservative management in this type of patients. Therefore, arthroscopic meniscal surgery should not be recommended as a first choice of treatment for degenerative meniscal tears. In patients over 40 years of age, arthroscopic surgery should be cautiously considered for degenerative meniscal tears and only when there has not been a satisfactory response to conservative management.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dong-Geun Kang.

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The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.

Ethical approval

Because this study was a literature review, ethical approval was not obtained.

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Appendix 1 Electronic search strategy for each database (DOCX 17 KB)

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Lee, DY., Park, YJ., Kim, HJ. et al. Arthroscopic meniscal surgery versus conservative management in patients aged 40 years and older: a meta-analysis. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 138, 1731–1739 (2018).

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  • Arthroscopy
  • Conservative treatment
  • Knee joint
  • Meniscus
  • Meta-analysis
  • Middle aged