May 05, 2005
1 min read

Overweight patients face higher meniscal tear risk

Patients with a body mass index of 40 or higher had at least a 15-times greater risk of meniscal tears, study finds.

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The risk of suffering a tear in meniscal knee cartilage significantly correlates with increased body mass index, a study by researchers in Utah found.

Kurt T. Hegmann, MD, MPH, a research associate professor of family and preventive medicine, and colleagues at the University of Utah School of Medicine conducted the study to evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and rates of meniscal surgery.

Their study included 515 patients — 262 males and 282 females — who underwent surgery for a meniscal tear between 1996 and 2000 at LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City, or at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah. The researchers compared these patients to a control group of 9944 frequency-matched patients enrolled in the National Cancer Institute’s Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial during the same period, according to a press release.

The researchers found that overweight patients — patients with a body mass index greater than 25 — had a risk for suffering a meniscal tear at least three times higher then patients of normal weight.

Among obese patients, or patients with a BMI greater than 40, males had a risk 15 times higher and females had a risk 25 times higher than patients of normal weight, according to the release.

Based on these results, Hegmann estimated that being overweight or obese could account for up to 450,000 of the 850,000 meniscus surgeries performed annually in the United States.

“Since 57.4% of the U.S. adult population, or 164 million people, is either overweight or obese, this relationship has potentially large implications for meniscal surgeries,” he said in the release.

“There’s a potential savings of $1.3 billion in the costs associated with meniscus tears in overweight and obese people,” added Hegmann, also director of the University of Utah Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.

“A population-based weight management program could decrease future burden on orthopedic and medical-care systems due to meniscal surgeries and treatment of other obesity-related conditions,” the authors said in the study.

For more information:

  • Ford GM, Hegmann KT, White GL. et. al. Associations of body mass index with meniscal tears. Am J Prev Med. 2005;28:364-368.