INTRODUCTION: Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (APM) after degenerative meniscus tears is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in orthopaedics. Although several randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have been published that showed no clear benefit compared with sham treatment or non-surgical treatment, the incidence of APM remains high. The common perception by most orthopaedic surgeons is that there are subgroups of patients that do need APM to improve, and they argue that each study sample of the existing trials is not representative for the day-to-day patients in the clinic. Therefore, the objective of this individual participant data meta-analysis (IPDMA) is to assess whether there are subgroups of patients with degenerative meniscus lesions who benefit from APM in comparison with non-surgical or sham treatment.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: An existing systematic review will be updated to identify all RCTs worldwide that evaluated APM compared with sham treatment or non-surgical treatment in patients with knee symptoms and degenerative meniscus tears. Time and effort will be spent in contacting principal investigators of the original trials and encourage them to collaborate in this project by sharing their trial data. All individual participant data will be validated for missing data, internal data consistency, randomisation integrity and censoring patterns. After validation, all datasets will be combined and analysed using a one-staged and two-staged approach. The RCTs' characteristics will be used for the assessment of clinical homogeneity and generalisability of the findings. The most important outcome will be the difference between APM and control groups in knee pain, function and quality of life 2 years after the intervention. Other outcomes of interest will include the difference in adverse events and mental health.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: All trial data will be anonymised before it is shared with the authors. The data will be encrypted and stored on a secure server located in the Netherlands. No major ethical concerns remain. This IPDMA will provide the evidence base to update and tailor diagnostic and treatment protocols as well as (international) guidelines for patients for whom orthopaedic surgeons consider APM. The results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42017067240.