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We included randomised controlled trials assessing the benefits (pain and physical function) of arthroscopic surgery involving partial meniscectomy, debridement, or both for patients with or without osteoarthritis compared with non-surgical treatments such as sham surgery (including lavage), exercise, and medical treatment.
Our aim was to include studies on middle aged and older patients, but we applied no restriction on age in the search as degenerative knee disease is rare before middle age.
When a report provided data on more than one pain or physical function scale, we used a published hierarchy for selection of patient reported outcomes (please refer to the PROSPERO protocol).28 We extracted outcomes for all reported follow-up assessments in the included studies.
This difference corresponds to a benefit of 2.4 (95% confidence interval 0.4 to 4.3) mm on a 0-100 mm visual analogue scale.
When analysed over time of follow-up, interventions including arthroscopy showed a small benefit of 3-5 mm for pain at three and six months but not later up to 24 months.
Two members of the study team independently assessed all titles and abstracts of identified reports for eligibility (benefits: JBT and CBJ; harms: JBT and LSL).
We obtained the full text if at least one of the reviewers judged a study to be eligible.