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Men have better recovery after knee surgery


Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In the first year after "keyhole" surgery to remove a portion of a damaged meniscus, cartilage tissue that provides structural integrity to the knee, women have poorer rates of recovery than men do in terms of knee pain and knee function, investigators report.

Also referred to arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, the procedure involves the use of an endoscope rather than more extensive surgery, to remove damaged meniscus tissue.

Patients with osteoarthritis also do not do as well as others in the short-term, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Peter Fabricant, a 4th year medical student at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut and colleagues determined predictors of short-term recovery among 126 patients who underwent arthroscopic partial meniscectomy.

Specifically, they looked at demographic variables, such as age, gender and body mass index, as well as clinical variables, including the involvement of one or both menisci, extent of meniscal damage and extent of osteoarthritis, which they compared with short-term postoperative recovery.

Patient age and body mass index had no impact on patient recovery. "There are data showing that people who are overweight and older people don't fare as well in the long term," Fabricant noted in an interview with Reuters Health, "but our study showed that in the short-term as people recover from surgery, age and body mass index do not impact recovery at all."

However, female gender did impact recovery. "Women had poorer recovery scores over the recovery period," Fabricant reported. "We don't know why this is," he acknowledged, "although some people think it might have something to do with gender differences in hormones or biomechanics in the knee."

As for the clinical variables, the extent of osteoarthritis was the only independent factor associated with poorer short-term recovery. Amount of tissue involved and resected had no bearing on short-term postoperative recovery. "A lot of literature talks about the more meniscus you remove the worse your outcome, but in our study that was not associated with recovery," Fabricant said.

Arthritis has been shown to adversely affect the long-term outcome as well, and it is not known "whether that is due to one specific thing or whether it's more of a marker for a more degenerated knee."

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