An osteotomy is a surgical operation where a bone is cut to shorten, lengthen, or change its alignment.
Osteotomies tend to be performed in younger patients to improve symptoms and help delay or prevent the need for an artificial joint replacement.
Osteotomies are performed to change the way forces pass through the joint. They are used to try and move pressure away from damaged parts of the knee to help protect them. They are usually performed in the lower femur (thigh bone) or upper tibia (shin bone). After cuts have been made, the bone is carefully repositioned using x-ray guidance and then the new position fixed with metal plates and screws. Occasionally osteotomies are used to help protect damaged ligaments and help improve knee stability.
Following surgery most patients are ready to go home within 48hours. The plate and screws are made of titanium and are very strong so you can partially bear weight on the operated leg straight away with the help of crutches. It is normal for the operated leg to be rather swollen and bruised for several weeks after this procedure. Regular icing, elevation and a gentle range of movement exercises are used to help reduce the swelling and pain.
After six weeks, if the x-rays show the bone is healing well you can progress to full weight bearing and dispense with your crutches as the discomfort settles. It usually takes many months for the osteotomy site to fully heal and for the leg pain to completely settle. Occasionally the metal plates securing the osteotomy may need to be removed once the bone has healed as they may cause irritation.