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Viscosupplementation for the treatment of osteoarthritis. The contribution of EUROVISCO group
Viscosupplementation (VS) is a symptomatic treatment for knee and other joint osteoarthritis (OA). Despite a long history of use, conflicting opinions remain on the best clinical indications and the most appropriate patients to be treated with intra-articular hyaluronic acid (IA-HA), the optimal dosing regimen and the modalities of retreatment. A multidisciplinary committee of European experts on OA (EUROVISCO) was constituted to formulate recommendations, aimed at helping physicians in the decision-making and the optimal achievement of VS. Before each session members were tasked to collate an exhaustive literature review. Level of evidence and strength of recommendation were based on the level of agreement for each item according to the Delphi method. In 2015, a consensus position was proposed for 24 statements. Among those that obtained a consensual agreement, the working group stressed that VS is effective in mild/moderate knee OA but is not an alternative to surgery in advanced OA, and that dosing regimen must be supported by controlled trials. In 2018, two decision algorithms for the retreatment with IA-HA in knee OA were published. Among the key recommendations, the experts recommended to re-treat every year patients with high risk of OA progression, even if not symptomatic. In 2020, EUROVISCO published two sets of recommendations for the design of clinical trials on the disease-modifying effect of VS and for optimizing the results of VS. The working group underlined that an accurate analysis of radiological features and symptoms and a careful clinical examination may improve the chances of success of VS, as well as good technique of injection and the use of imaging guidance. Based on the exhaustive analysis of the literature and their own clinical experience, the EUROVISCO experts offer a wide range of recommendations intended to help practitioners, particularly in certain cases where the specific characteristics of the patients make the therapeutic decision difficult.
Keywords: EUROVISCO; hip; hyaluronic acid; intra-articular injection; knee; osteoarthritis; recommendations; viscosupplementation.