Knee osteotomy

Knee osteotomy is bone surgery to treat damage from arthritis in one side of your knee by realigning your knee joint. UCHealth specialists perform knee osteotomy when poor knee alignment causes early-stage osteoarthritis and pain, but doesn’t yet indicate knee replacement surgery. Our specialists may also perform osteotomy in combination with other types of knee surgery, such as cartilage surgery.

A procedure to relieve pain

In a knee osteotomy, your orthopedic surgeon cuts either the shinbone (tibia) or the femur (thighbone), then reshapes it by removing or adding a wedge of bone to the cut bone. This shifts your body weight off the damaged side of your knee, and relieves arthritic pain and improves function.

Find out if knee osteotomy is right for you

If you’ve received a referral, make an appointment today with a UCHealth orthopedic surgeon to begin the knee osteotomy process. We’ll work with you on a personalized treatment plan based on your activity level and the right type of osteotomy procedure for your case. You may still need a total knee replacement in the future, but a knee osteotomy may be the best solution until a knee replacement is needed.

Knee osteotomy preserves your own knee anatomy, which can delay the need for a joint replacement for several years. As a result, knee osteotomy can be a good option in younger and more active patients. After surgery, you will be able to participate in your favorite activities, including sports.

Knee osteotomy has three goals:

  • Transfer weight from the arthritic part of the knee to a healthier area
  • Correct poor knee alignment
  • Prolong the life span of the knee joint

Knee osteotomy is major surgery that requires either general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia, and typically takes one to two hours.

There are two types of knee osteotomy procedures:

Closing wedge osteotomy. Your orthopedic surgeon cuts the shinbone or thighbone, removes a wedge of bone, brings together the cut edges of the bone, and uses metal hardware to hold them in place.

Opening wedge osteotomy. The simplest knee osteotomy, where your orthopedic surgeon cuts across the bone, opens a gap, fills it with bone graft, and fixes the bone in place with a plate and screws.

Most of our patients go home after one to two days in the hospital. As the bone heals, your personalized treatment plan will outline steps that will speed your recovery process. You can expect to enjoy your favorite activities again three to six months after surgery.

Your treatment plan may include:

Doctor visits. You will see your surgeon for follow-up visits after surgery, which will include X-rays to monitor healing.

Weight bearing phases. You will need to use crutches for several weeks, and your knee may in a brace or cast. Your surgeon will tell you when you can put weight on that knee again.

Physical therapy. During rehabilitation, a physical therapist will give you exercises to help maintain range of motion in your knee and restore your strength.

Years of pain relief

Knee osteotomy is usually successful at relieving arthritis pain and restoring function. It can allow you to postpone the need for a total knee replacement by 10 to 15 years.