Re-Alignment Surgery (Knee osteotomy)

Knee osteotomy is recommended for patients that experience pain on one side of their knee due to osteoarthritis. Osteotomy means “cutting of the bone” and in a knee osteotomy, either your shin bone (tibia) or thigh bone (femur) is cut and re-aligned to take the pressure off of the damaged side of your joint. This can effectively relieve pain and improve function in your knee.

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 letting you keep your own knee! A successful knee osteotomy may also delay the need for a joint replacement for several years.

The other advantage of knee osteotomy surgery is that you can continue to take part in your favourite activities including high impact sports, such as football or tennis.

The Operation

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 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.

If you’re suffering from knee pain – get your free copy of my guide to find out everything you need to know about how to manage your symptoms.

Gareth Stables

Cheshire Orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Gareth Stables, is a fully UK trained Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon specialising in knee surgery. Gareth has the highest qualifications possible for an orthopaedic surgeon in the UK, FRCS (T&O), and is on the GMC specialist register for Trauma and Orthopaedic surgery.

Gareth specialises in; keyhole or knee arthroscopy surgery, ligament reconstruction surgery, knee osteotomy and knee replacement surgery. He has over 15 years of experience in the field having qualified with a commendation in 1998 from the University of Liverpool Medical School.

"My life was transformed and the pain almost negligible.... Now no painkillers or stick. I cannot thank my caring consultant enough. I will be ever grateful for his wisdom"

"Brilliant treatment from start! Had arthritis in knee joint.Was given injection and the effect was immediate! Brilliant. Would recommend to anyone. One of the most helpful doctors I have ever seen(and I`m 73 !!)"

"Mr Stables was very understanding, patient and thoroughly competent. I would recommend anyone to have knee replacements by him. The whole experience was worthwhile and very good for my quality of life."