April 06, 1999

Nancy Lawrence
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 77642

Effectiveness of arthroscopic surgery to treat osteoarthritis being studied by team at London Health Sciences Centre

(LONDON, Ontario) - Osteoarthritis affects one-half of the adult population, with the knee being the most commonly involved weight-bearing joint. It is estimated that by the age of 75 years, 85 of 100 elderly patients will have some form of this disease. Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of long-term disability in Canada and as the population ages and longevity lengthens, the prevalence of osteoarthritis is expected to increase.

A team of investigators, led by Dr. Sandy Kirkley at London Health Sciences Centre's Fowler-Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, is conducting a study looking at the effectiveness of arthroscopic surgery plus non-surgical treatment versus the best non-surgical treatment alone for osteoarthritis of the knee. Non-surgical treatment includes medication, health education, and physical therapy.

"Arthroscopic surgery has become a popular treatment despite an absence of rigorous evaluation," explains Dr. Alexandra Kirkley. "It has been suggested that arthroscopic knee surgery may delay the need for total knee replacement surgery. We believe this trial will provide valuable information needed to better select among treatment alternatives in osteoarthritis of the knee, resulting in more effective treatment options for the patient and a more effective use of healthcare resources."

Recruitment for this study is currently underway. Those interested in participating in the study are asked to contact their family physician for a referral. Recruitment is expected to take one year and 186 participants are being sought. Treatment effectiveness will be based upon the patients' disease specific quality of life at two years.