Whether arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for symptomatic patients with a meniscal tear and knee osteoarthritis results in better functional outcomes than nonoperative therapy is uncertain.
We conducted a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial involving symptomatic patients 45 years of age or older with a meniscal tear and evidence of mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis on imaging. We randomly assigned 351 patients to surgery and postoperative physical therapy or to a standardized physical-therapy regimen (with the option to cross over to surgery at the discretion of the patient and surgeon). The patients were evaluated at 6 and 12 months. The primary outcome was the difference between the groups with respect to the change in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) physical-function score (ranging from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more severe symptoms) 6 months after randomization.
In the intention-to-treat analysis, the mean improvement in the WOMAC score after 6 months was 20.9 points (95% confidence interval [CI], 17.9 to 23.9) in the surgical group and 18.5 (95% CI, 15.6 to 21.5) in the physical-therapy group (mean difference, 2.4 points; 95% CI, −1.8 to 6.5). At 6 months, 51 active participants in the study who were assigned to physical therapy alone (30%) had undergone surgery, and 9 patients assigned to surgery (6%) had not undergone surgery. The results at 12 months were similar to those at 6 months. The frequency of adverse events did not differ significantly between the groups.
In the intention-to-treat analysis, we did not find significant differences between the study groups in functional improvement 6 months after randomization; however, 30% of the patients who were assigned to physical therapy alone underwent surgery within 6 months.
Penicillin to Prevent Recurrent Leg Cellulitis
Cellulitis of the leg is a common bacterial infection of the skin and underlying tissue. We compared prophylactic low-dose penicillin with placebo for the prevention of recurrent cellulitis.
We conducted a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial involving patients with two or more episodes of cellulitis of the leg who were recruited in 28 hospitals in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Randomization was performed according to a computer-generated code, and study medications (penicillin [250 mg twice a day] or placebo for 12 months) were dispensed by a central pharmacy. The primary outcome was the time to a first recurrence. Participants were followed for up to 3 years. Because the risk of recurrence was not constant over the 3-year period, the primary hypothesis was tested during prophylaxis only.
A total of 274 patients were recruited. Baseline characteristics were similar in the two groups. The median time to a first recurrence of cellulitis was 626 days in the penicillin group and 532 days in the placebo group. During the prophylaxis phase, 30 of 136 participants in the penicillin group (22%) had a recurrence, as compared with 51 of 138 participants in the placebo group (37%) (hazard ratio, 0.55; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.35 to 0.86; P=0.01), yielding a number needed to treat to prevent one recurrent cellulitis episode of 5 (95% CI, 4 to 9). During the no-intervention follow-up period, there was no difference between groups in the rate of a first recurrence (27% in both groups). Overall, participants in the penicillin group had fewer repeat episodes than those in the placebo group (119 vs. 164, P=0.02 for trend). There was no significant between-group difference in the number of participants with adverse events (37 in the penicillin group and 48 in the placebo group, P=0.50).
In patients with recurrent cellulitis of the leg, penicillin was effective in preventing subsequent attacks during prophylaxis, but the protective effect diminished progressively once drug therapy was stopped.