Placebo vs. Knee Surgery

From the WSJ:

But researchers in Finland who studied two sets of patients—one that received the surgery, and another that was led to believe that it had—observed no significant differences in improvement between the groups after one year.

This is for torn meniscus. It interests me because a lot of people I know have had such surgery. Of course, it also illustrates Hansonian medicine–giving placebos is a less effective way of showing that you care.

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4 Responses to Placebo vs. Knee Surgery

  1. TA says:

    I had that surgery when I was about 50 and running 100 miles a month. It worked great, or so I thought — I kept on running.

    Maybe faking it would have worked just as well. How would I ever know?

    Here’s another question: Why would faking it be much cheaper than the real thing?

  2. Bret says:

    I’m not sure it’s equivalent to a placebo. Could it be the the wounds for the scope could stimulate healing?

  3. Mike says:

    Let’s assume that both the surgery and placebo are effective. But outside a blinded study, how does your doctor inform you about the sham treatment? I would like to see such a study with a third path, one in which the placebo was known to the recipients. Then we could learn if the placebo effect survives if its nature is fully known to the subject. If anyone knows of such a study, I’d like to hear about it.

  4. Andrew' says:

    These are always presented with a tinge of “gotcha” towards those evil profit-motivated doctors, but less often as a gotcha aimed at insurance or the lack of prior effectiveness testing.

    Whose fault is it that “we” spend Billions of dollars on something that has not been actually been studied?

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