What’s Osteotomy?

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An osteotomy is a surgical procedure to correct bone misalignment, lengthen or shorten bone, or correct damage due to osteoarthritis. It is used to correct deformities caused by disease or disorder and can be an alternative to total hip or knee replacement for patients with osteoarthritis. Recovery can be long and painful, and there are risks involved.

An osteotomy is an elective surgical procedure, performed under general anesthesia, in which bone is cut or harvested to correct bone misalignment, to shorten or lengthen bone, or to correct damage due to osteoarthritis. An osteotomy is necessary when a bone has healed poorly or is crooked, or when a deformity is caused by disease or disorder.

There are several deformities that can be corrected with the procedure: these include hallux velux, a deformity of the big toe; coxa vera, a hip deformity; genu valgum, commonly known as “knock knees”; and genus varus, in which the legs are severely bowed. Osteotomies are commonly performed on patients who have had a break that healed crookedly or grew more slowly than the surrounding bone. Trauma to a growth plate can affect how a bone grows, and the results of uneven growth may require an osteotomy.

Osteoarthritis patients may find that an osteotomy is a good alternative to 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, bone is cut to shift weight to the good side of the joint. This stabilizes the knee and reduces pain from loading on the worn cartilage. This type of procedure is useful for young, active patients who are likely to outlive the duration of a knee replacement.

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and disadvantages. Recovery can be long and very painful, requiring extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation. A cast or splint will be worn for approximately four to eight weeks. Risks include bones that don’t heal properly, blood clots, bleeding into the joint, inflammation of the joint tissues, infections, and nerve damage.

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