Knee osteotomy is recommended for patients that experience pain on one side of the knee due to osteoarthritis. Osteotomy means “cutting of the bone” and in a knee osteotomy either the shin bone (tibia) or thigh bone (femur) is cut and reshaped to take the pressure off of the damaged side of the joint. This can effectively relieve pain and improve function in the knee.
When the bones of the leg do not line up properly you can develop osteoarthritis. This causes the articular cartilage to wear away and put extra stress on either the inner (medial) or outer (lateral) side of the knee. When this occurs pain and stiffness can be felt in the knee.
The most common type of knee osteotomy surgery performed in the UK is called an opening wedge osteotomy. This operation lasts from 1 to 2 hours. A patient could benefit from knee osteotomy if:
They are aged between 40yrs – 60yrs old and lead an active lifestyle.
They only have pain on one side of the knee, and have no pain behind the patella.
Pain is brought on mostly by standing for a long period of time or during activity.
Are not smokers.
Can fully straighten the knee and bend it at least 90 degrees.
They don’t have rheumatoid or inflammatory arthritis.
Before the operation the correct size of osteotomy will be planned out using x-rays. An incision is made in the side of the knee and guide wires are inserted to mark out the angle and depth of the osteotomy. Using an oscillating saw the surgeon will cut the bone along the guide wires to the pre-planned size. Plates and screws are then inserted to hold the bones in place until the osteotomy heals.
What happens after the operation?
Patients usually stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days after an osteotomy. While the bone heals patients may have to wear a leg brace and will have to use crutches for a few weeks. About 6 weeks after the operation an x-ray will determine if the osteotomy is healing. If the results look good patients can usually start to return to their normal activities.
What are the benefits of knee osteotomy surgery?
With the success of partial or full knee replacements knee osteotomy surgery has become less common. However, there is an increasing amount of evidence that knee osteotomy gives good long term pain relief as well as the added benefit of preserving the patients own knee. A successful surgery may also delay the need for joint replacement for several years.
The other advantage to knee osteotomy surgery is that patients can continue to participate in their favourite activities including high impact sports, such as football or tennis.
What are the risks?
Knee osteotomy is generally a safe operation. Typically complication rates are low. The most common complications include; infection, blood clots, stiffness in the knee joint, damage to nerves and blood vessels and unsuccessful healing (increased risk in smokers).
It is important to get advice from your doctor, physiotherapist or knee surgeon if you suffer with pain in your knee. Early diagnosis and a personalised discussion about your treatment options can help you decide what is the best treatment for you. For further advice contact My Knee Doc.
Call 0161 4646399 today to arrange a consultation with Mr Gareth Stables.