Researchers in the News
U.S. News & World Report Highlights AF-Funded OA Study
Findings of a new study led by Arthritis Foundation-funded researcher David J. Hunter, MBBS, PhD, of Boston University School of Medicine were highlighted in an article in the March 13 issue of U.S News & World Report.
The article, titled “Knee-jerk Surgery Isn’t a Great Idea,” warned readers that meniscectomy – a relatively common surgery for arthritis which involves removing all or part of a damaged meniscus, the crescent-shaped wedge of cartilage that normally cushions, stabilizes and lubricates the knee joint – may make arthritis worse. It cited the study led by Hunter, which followed 257 people with osteoarthritis (OA) in one or both knees and found that people whose menisci covered the least amount of joint surface had nearly three times as great a risk of worsening their arthritis over 20 months as people with the most meniscus tissue.
For years research has shown that people who undergo meniscectomy often go on to develop knee OA, says Hunter. The reasoning has been that OA has resulted largely from the injury that necessitated meniscectomy as well as from the increased contact stress due to the loss of meniscal tissue. Hunter’s new study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, shows that in patients with symptomatic OA, meniscal tears and malpositioning are risk factors for cartilage loss.
Hunter acknowledges the study has some limitations. For one, the measure of meniscal damage used does not distinguish the type of tear that may be important for cartilage loss. Also, because the study participants already had OA at the time the study began there was no way to determine if or how meniscal damage may have caused OA in the first place.
While the study did not look specifically at people who had had meniscectomies, Hunter says it highlights the importance of an intact and functioning meniscus in patients with symptomatic knee OA. “Removing [the meniscus] will only enhance the rate of structural change,” he told U.S. News & World Report. His research supports efforts to preserve damaged menisci rather than to remove them.
Source: Arthritis & Rheumatism, Vol. 54, No. 3
Young Girl With Scleroderma Cites Basketball as Her Lifesaver
Recently, Arthritis Foundation-funded researcher Anne Stevens, MD, of Children’s Hospital Seattle, was quoted in an article about one of her patients. Allyson Stone, who was diagnosed with scleroderma at age 9, told the Seattle Times reporter that basketball saved her life by giving her something to focus on. Dr. Stevens provided explanations of the disease and Allyson’s treatment as well as comments on the young girl’s tenacity. Throughout months of monthly and then daily chemotherapy treatments, Allyson kept playing basketball, Dr. Stevens told the reporter.