1. The sympathomimetic agent clenbuterol has a muscle-specific anabolic effect in normal and wasted muscles from animals. This trial was designed to examine the effect of the drug on the recovery of muscle strength and area after open medial meniscectomy.
2. A double-blind, completely randomized, placebo-controlled study was carried out on 20 healthy male patients. Muscle strength and cross-sectional area were determined before and after surgery. Patients were treated with drug or placebo for 4 weeks postoperatively and there was a 2 week washout period.
3. The results suggest that, in the operated leg, clenbuterol treatment is associated with a more rapid rehabilitation of strength in knee extensor muscles; in the unoperated leg, knee extensor strength increased above the initial values after 6 weeks (P = 0.01). However, in terms of absolute strength the differences were not significant between the two groups.
4. It is concluded that the data lend support to the proposition that clenbuterol has therapeutic potential in the treatment of muscle-wasting conditions.