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What is Osteotomy?

By O. Wallace
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An osteotomy is an elective surgical procedure, performed under general anesthesia, in which a bone is cut or a portion is taken out in order to fix a bad bone alignment, to shorten or lengthen the bone, or to correct damage due to osteoarthritis. An osteotomy is needed when a bone has healed badly or crooked, or when a deformity is caused by disease or disorder.

There are several deformities that can be corrected by the procedure: among them hallux velux, a deformity of the big toe; coxa vera, a deformity of the hip; genu valgum, commonly known as "knock knees"; and genus varus, in which the legs are severely bowlegged. Osteotomies are commonly performed on patients who have experienced a break that has healed crookedly, or has grown slower than the bones around it. Trauma to a growth plate can affect how a bone grows, and the results of uneven growth may require an osteotomy.

Patients suffering from osteoarthritis may find that an osteotomy is a good alternative to a total hip or knee replacement. This procedure is an option when only one side of the joint is affected or worn. With a knee osteotomy, the bone is cut in order to shift the weight to the good side of the joint. This stabilizes the knee and reduces the pain of putting weight on worn cartilage. This type of procedure is good for young, active patients who will likely outlive the lifespan of a knee replacement.

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and drawbacks. The recovery can be long and very painful, and requires extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation. A cast or splint will be worn for approximately four to eight weeks. Risks include improperly healed bones, blood clots, bleeding in the joint, inflammation of joint tissues, infection, and nerve damage.

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Discussion Comments
By anon86105 — On May 23, 2010

I'm 30 years old 215 pounds and am extremely knocked kneed. My knees don't hurt, they just look very weird when i walk and it's so embarrassing. I think about it constantly because i look crippled.

Is there someone who has had an osteotomy for knocked knees? If so, could you give me some advice as to how your surgery went and the doctor who performed your surgery?

By legerdemain — On Apr 25, 2009

I'm having this surgery to repair a high velocity impact injury to my right knee. My doctor told me that knee replacements don't last forever. He says that I want to wait as long as possible before doing a replacement, even though I will have to have one at some point. The half of my knee that is uninjured is way better than an artificial joint.

This is my third surgery to try to repair my knee...different specialist...so I can tell you that the pain is bearable.

By anon15867 — On Jul 23, 2008

Maybe if you lost 100#, you wouldn't need surgery. It's said for every 1# you lose it takes 4# of pressure off your knees.

By tsangel58 — On Feb 06, 2008

I am almost 50 and 300 pounds and I am facing this surgery. What is better, knee replacement or High Tibial Osteotomy? I have degenerative Arthritis in both knees, and face great pain each day.

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