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Performing a knee arthroscopy among patients with degenerative knee disease: one-third is potentially low value care

Performing a knee arthroscopy among patients with degenerative knee disease: one-third is potentially low value care

Rietbergen T, Maren-van de Mheen PJ, Diercks RL, Janssen RPA, van der Linder-van der Zwaag HMJ, Nelissen RGHH, Steyerberg EW, van Bodegom-Vos L, for the SMART study group
Knee Surg, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy Online June 19, 2021


Purpose The purpose of this study was to assess in which proportion of patients with degenerative knee disease aged 50+ in whom a knee arthroscopy is performed, no valid surgical indication is reported in medical records, and to explore pos- sible explanatory factors.

Methods A retrospective study was conducted using administrative data from January to December 2016 in 13 orthopedic centers in the Netherlands. Medical records were selected from a random sample of 538 patients aged 50+ with degenerative knee disease in whom arthroscopy was performed, and reviewed on reported indications for the performed knee arthroscopy. Valid surgical indications were predefined based on clinical national guidelines and expert opinion (e.g., truly locked knee). A knee arthroscopy without a reported valid indication was considered potentially low value care. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to assess whether age, diagnosis (“Arthrosis” versus “Meniscal lesion”), and type of care trajectory (initial or follow-up) were associated with performing a potentially low value knee arthroscopy.

Results Of 26,991 patients with degenerative knee disease, 2556 (9.5%) underwent an arthroscopy in one of the partici- pating orthopedic centers. Of 538 patients in whom an arthroscopy was performed, 65.1% had a valid indication reported in the medical record and 34.9% without a reported valid indication. From the patients without a valid indication, a joint patient–provider decision or patient request was reported as the main reason. Neither age [OR 1.013 (95% CI 0.984–1.043)], diagnosis [OR 0.998 (95% CI 0.886–1.124)] or type of care trajectory [OR 0.989 (95% CI 0.948–1.032)] were significantly associated with performing a potentially low value knee arthroscopy.

Conclusions In a random sample of knee arthroscopies performed in 13 orthopedic centers in 2016, 65% had valid indica- tions reported in the medical records but 35% were performed without a reported valid indication and, therefore, potentially low value care. Patient and/or surgeons preference may play a large role in the decision to perform an arthroscopy without a valid indication. Therefore, interventions should be developed to increase adherence to clinical guidelines by surgeons that target invalid indications for a knee arthroscopy to improve care.

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RPA Janssen, MD PhD Prof
Orthopaedic Surgeon
Orthopaedic Associates Eindhoven Greater Area
Orthopedic Center Máxima
Máxima Medical Center (MMC)

Visiting adress MMC Eindhoven:
Ds. Th. Fliednerstraat 1
Ingang Zuid
5631 BM  Eindhoven
The Netherlands 
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The Netherlands
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5600 PD  Eindhoven
The Netherlands

Tel. 0031 (0)40 88 88 600
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Fax: 0031 (0)40 88 85 938

Orthopaedic Associates Eindhoven Greater Area
Máxima Medical Center
Eindhoven University of Technology
Fontys University of Applied Sciences

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