The Changing Tide of Knee Arthroscopy in the U.S.

CDC data show that knee arthroscopy is one of the most frequently performed ambulatory orthopedic procedures in the United States. The surgery is now primarily used for the removal of loose bodies, debridement of meniscal tears, debridement and recontouring of cartilage flaps, arthroscopically assisted ligament reconstruction and meniscal transplantation, and synovectomy. In the early 1980s, there was a shift toward performing some surgical procedures on an outpatient basis for a variety of reasons. “Advances in anesthesia and surgical techniques, financial incentives to providers and patients, and enhancements in postoperative pain management were all factors that led to this shift,” explains Richard A. Marder, MD. “It’s well understood that the number of ambulatory surgical procedures is increasing, but there has been little study exploring the frequency and magnitude of these procedures occurring in outpatient settings in the U.S.” Significant 10-Year Trends In the June 1, 2011 Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Sunny H. Kim, PhD, Jose Bosque, MD, John P. Meehan, MD, Amir Jamali, MD, and Dr. Marder had a study published that described the changes in demographics and utilization of knee arthroscopy in ambulatory settings between 1996 and 2006 in the U.S. The investigation, which analyzed CDC data from the National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery, also sought out to determine the most common reasons for knee arthroscopy over the past decade. “Our analysis revealed several interesting trends,” says Dr. Marder. “First, between 1996 and 2006, the number of knee arthroscopies increased by 49% (Table 1). The increase in knee arthroscopy procedures was much steeper than the growth of the U.S. population during the same period.” “Clinicians should continue to...