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INTRODUCTION: The use of arthroscopy to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis has been questioned by recent high quality evidence. This has led to the development of guidelines by specialist and national bodies advocating against its use. AIMS: To examine the trends of the rates of arthroscopy in patients with knee osteoarthritis over the past five years and determining compliance with guidelines. METHODS: Multi-centre, retrospective audit in five hospital trusts in the United Kingdom. The number of arthroscopies performed by month from 2013 to 2017 was identified through hospital coding. Fifty randomly selected records from the year 2017 were further analysed to assess compliance with NICE guidelines. RESULTS: Between 2013 and 2017, the number of arthroscopies performed annually in five trusts dropped from 2028 to 1099. In the year 2017, 17.7% of patients with no mechanical symptoms and moderate-to-severe arthritis pre-operatively had arthroscopy. CONCLUSION: Knee arthroscopy continues to be used as a treatment for osteoarthritis, against national guidelines. Whilst overall numbers are declining, further interventions, including implementation of high-quality conservative care is required to further eliminate unnecessary procedures.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur j orthop surg traumatol

Publication Date





1443 - 1449


Arthroscopy, Knee, Osteoarthritis, Arthroscopy, Humans, Knee Joint, Osteoarthritis, Knee, Retrospective Studies, United Kingdom