There is consistent evidence to indicate that arthroscopic lavage and/or debridement to treat people for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, and/or partial meniscectomy for patients with a degenerative meniscal tear (with or without underlying osteoarthritis), is no more effective than placebo surgery or non-operative alternatives. The evidence for this is now so developed that a recent guideline makes a strong recommendation against knee arthroscopy in almost all patients and states that further research is unlikely to change this recommendation.
There is also a high rate of conversion from knee arthroscopy to total knee arthroplasty, which rises with increased age, further suggesting arthroscopic surgery should be avoided in people over the age of 50 years.
Khan M, Evaniew N, Bedi A, et al. Arthroscopic surgery for degenerative tears of the meniscus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CMAJ 2014, 186(14):1057-1064.
Siemieniuk RAC, Harris IA, Agoritsas T, et al. Arthroscopic surgery for degenerative knee arthritis and meniscal tears: a clinical practice guideline. BMJ. 2017 10;357:j1982.
Sihvonen R, Paavola M, Malmivaara A, et al. Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy versus sham surgery for a degenerative meniscal tear. N Engl J Med 2013; 369: 2515-2524
Wai EK, Kreder HJ, Williams JI. Arthroscopic débridement of the knee for osteoarthritis in patients fifty years of age or older: utilization and outcomes in the Province of Ontario. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2002;84-A(1):17-22