The arthroscopy procedure (whereby surgeons insert a visual aid inside the joints to assess damage) can cause deep vein thrombosis, says a new report. Up till now, medicine would have us believe that the procedure is completely harmless, without any side effects.
The Canadian survey found that 33 out of 184 patients (or 18 per cent) had developed deep vein thrombosis. Only 20 of the 33 had previously shown any symptoms. The authors of the trial consider this a high incidence and suggest that clinical trials should be carried out to discover whether patients would benefit from some form of protective treatment before the investigative treatment (BMJ, Feb 1998; 316: 562).