Osteotomy

Osteotomy is a surgical operation whereby a bone is cut to shorten, lengthen, or change its alignment. It is sometimes performed to correct a hallux valgus, or to straighten a bone that has healed crookedly following a fracture. It is also used to correct a coxa vara, genu valgum, and genu varum. The operation is done under a general anaesthetic.

Osteotomy is one method to relieve pain in arthritis, especially of the hip and knee. It is being replaced by joint replacement in the older patient.


Knee osteotomy is commonly used to realign arthritic damage on one side of the knee. The goal is to shift the patient's body weight off the damaged area to the other side of the knee, where the cartilage is still healthy. Surgeons remove a wedge of the shinbone from underneath the healthy side of the knee, which allows the shinbone and thighbone to bend away from the damaged cartilage.

A model for this is the hinges on a door. When the door is shut, the hinges are flush against the wall. As the door swings open, one side of the door remains pressed against the wall as space opens up on the other side. Removing just a small wedge of bone can "swing" the knee open, pressing the healthy tissue together as space opens up between the thighbone and shinbone on the damaged side so that the arthritic surfaces do not rub against each other.
Osteotomy is also used as an alternative treatment to total knee replacement in younger and active patients. Because prosthetic knees may wear out over time, an osteotomy procedure can enable younger, active osteoarthritis patients to continue using the healthy portion of their knee. The procedure can delay the need for a total knee replacement for up to ten years.

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