Mr Steve Bollen’s open letter to the Editor of the BMJ about the role of knee arthroscopy

A lot seems to have been published recently in various medical (non-surgical) journals inappropriately demonising the role of knee arthroscopy, and suggesting that “it doesn’t work”.

Vitally, there has been significant misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the genuine evidence that is actually available in the published scientific literature.

There is a definite role for knee arthroscopy in some patients with degenerate tears and / or degenerate knees; however, appropriate patient selection and appropriate surgical skill and technique are absolutely key.

Arthroscopy is an extremely valuable tool; however, the term ‘arthroscopy’ simply means looking (scopy) into a joint (arthro) – it says nothing about what the specific reasons might be for looking into that joint, what specific pathologies / damage might be found inside the joint, what actual surgical procedures (of which there are many) might be undertaken, or finally who might actually be doing the surgery (and what their individual skill-set might be).

Statements such as “knee arthroscopy doesn’t work” are simply ill-informed, ignorant, inappropriate and potentially dangerous, and run the risk of many people being denied access to appropriate modern-day surgical care that could relieve their symptoms, improve their function and help them keep their knee going for longer, delaying the need for more major surgical procedures such as knee replacement.

A number of inappropriate articles and comments have appeared in the British Medical Journal. However, the editor of that journal has refused to publish any of the surgical profession’s responses, which shows a very worrying negative bias (which is deeply wrong for any scientific journal).

CLICK HERE to read Mr Steve Bollen’s excellent and well-considered ‘Open Letter’ to Dr Fiona Godlee, which has now been published in the Arthroscopy journal.

The BKS strongly supports proper evidence-based medicine, and is happy to endorse appropriate statements from leading specialists in their fields who have genuine knowledge and insight into their areas of specialty.


13 February 2018