Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoarthritis Health Center

Font Size

Popular Knee Surgery May Be Useless

Experts Say Arthroscopy for Arthritis Is a Waste of Time and Money


The surgery involves the insertion of an arthroscope into the knee and either flushing the joint with a saline solution or flushing and scraping the knee joint. Both procedures are done to remove debris and inflammatory enzymes, but there is no indication that they slow the progression of arthritis.

In this study, 180 osteoarthritis patients treated at the Houston VA Medical Center were randomly assigned to receive the flushing procedure alone, the flushing plus scraping procedure, or the placebo surgery. All the patients understood at the outset that there was a one-in-three chance that they would receive the placebo surgery, and none knew which procedure they had gotten.

Medical observers who were also unaware of which procedure the patients received assessed their ability to perform various functions such as walking and climbing stairs.

Lead researcher J. Bruce Moseley, MD, who performed all 180 surgeries, tells WebMD that he has long questioned the value of using arthroscopic surgery to treat people with osteoarthritis. This study, he says, is the best evidence yet that the procedure is not useful. Moseley is a clinical associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Baylor and is team surgeon for the Houston Rockets and the Houston Comets.

Osteoarthritis expert and rheumatologist David T. Felson, MD, says the study offers very strong evidence that that the surgery is of little value in this group of patients. He agrees that persuading orthopaedic surgeons not to do it may be difficult.

"There is a large community of surgeons who do this operation, and what this study is telling them is that what they are doing is worthless," Felson tells WebMD. "What I have seen when I refer patients is that surgeons tend to use this as a way to delay total knee replacement. But I don't think that is in the patient's best interest."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

elderly hands
Even with arthritis pain.
woman exercising
Here are 7 easy tips.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
Keep Joints Healthy
Chronic Pain Healthcheck
close up of man with gut
man knee support
woman with cold compress
Man doing tai chi
hand gripping green rubber ball
person walking with assistance