Osteotomy around the Knee

Osteotomy procedures are carried out by Orthopaedic Surgeons and involve the surgeon cutting the bone. This procedure is one of the oldest techniques and is used to straighten bones when they are deformed. This procedure can also be used to in cases of arthritic joints to relive pain by altering the weight bearing line through an arthritic joint.

An osteotomy procedure is often used on a patient who is considered too young to undergo a total knee replacement but is unfortunate enough to have early arthritic joint problems. In cases such as these, an osteotomy procedure is used to alter the way that weight is taken through the knee joint. Without treatment, the bone can become deformed creating a bow leg or knock knee deformity as well as being extremely painful. In younger people, the knee will usually wear on either the inner or the outside and can result in deformity which can cause all kinds of problems. By cutting the bone and straightening it will not only remove the problem of pain but also realigns the joint and shifts the weight bearing away from the worn out area allowing it to be taken through the good part of the joint and prevent further damage.

How is a Knee Osteotomy Procedure Performed?

Following a thorough examination and consultation with an Orthopaedic Surgeon, the decision as to whether the patient is suitable for a knee osteotomy will be taken based on the results of the examination. The examination will involve an x-ray being taken, usually both legs so that measurements can be taken and also allows a comparison to be made as to the extent of the deformity.

Osteotomies around the knee are usually performed on the femur or the thighbone above the knee or in the tibia or shin bone below the knee. Once the surgeon has decided which area is to be operated on, the procedure will take place under a general anaesthetic. The incision made by the Orthopaedic Surgeon is usually quite small and involves the surgeon exposing the bone and using a very fine saw to simply cut across the bone so that the deformity can be corrected.

There are a number of ways in which the surgeon may correct the problem including bending the bone once it has been cut and then holding it in position with a plate and screws.  Alternatively, the surgeon may cut a wedge shaped slice of out of the bone and then bring the two cut edges together to correct the deformity, again using a plate and screws to hold the bones in place. The plates can be left in position, or sometimes they can be removed once healing has taken place at a later date, but this will involve another procedure.

After a Knee Osteotomy

Following an osteotomy, the limb is usually braced. The hinged brace will allow for early knee movement, but depending on the type of osteotomy, a period of approximately six weeks of non weight bearing may be needed. Physiotherapy will also be introduced to help aid a speedy recovery.

Following a knee osteotomy procedure the patient can usually expect to be fully healed in around 6 to 8 weeks, and full recovery is usually within 3 months. As a general rule, a knee osteotomy can be expected to last around 10 years after which a knee joint replacement may be a good next option.

Surgery Consultation Process

As with all surgical procedures, Mr Guido Geutjens, Specialist Knee Surgeon, takes all of his patients through a thorough examination and diagnosis process before any surgical procedure is performed. Mr Geutjens will always ensure that a surgical approach is the most appropriate option and will fully explain the benefits and risks involved with any surgical procedure before proceeding.

  • Q1 What is an osteotomy?

    An osteotomy procedure involves an Orthopaedic Surgeon cutting the bone and resetting it. It is generally used  to correct alignment i.e. straighten bones.

  • Q2 Why would I need an osteotomy?

    An Osteotomy would be performed by an Orthopaedic Surgeon if a patient’s bones are deformed. This may be the result of diseased arthritic joints causing legs to become bow legged or it may be the following trauma resulting in a malunited fracture.