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EDUCATION CENTER: Therapies

Osteotomy

Overview
Also known as bone realignment.

An osteotomy is a cutting of bone. When applied to the knee, it is most often used to correct a misalignment disorder that is causing a knee problem. When misalignment is causing degeneration of the knee (arthritis), an osteotomy may be considered as long as the arthritis is not too far progressed. If the arthritis is long-standing, the realignment procedure may not significantly improve the condition.

Other reasons for an osteotomy include previous trauma and abnormal bone healing. It can also be used to correct muscle imbalances. The reasons to perform an osteotomy vary and it is undertaken only after all non-operative options are exhausted.

Detailed Description
Specialist
Orthopedic surgeon

Procedure
After the bone is cut and realigned, plates and screws are often used to keep the bone in the new, appropriate alignment. As long as the plates and screws do not cause a problem, they are usually left in place permanently. The only exceptions are pain from the hardware and when the bone still has growth remaining and may continue to grow and therefore, possibly outgrow the hardware.

Recovery
Hospitalization: 1-4 days
At home: 4-12 weeks depending on surgery.

  • While resting in bed, reduce the swelling by elevating leg and moving frequently (pump your ankles).
  • Use crutches to walk until your doctor says otherwise.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Stay within your safe range of motion as directed by your doctor.
  • Bathe and shower as directed by your physician.
  • Ice the knee.
  • Avoid strenuous activities. Restrictions may last up to 9-12 months after surgery.

Complications/Risks
An osteotomy has risks associated with it. It often requires a fairly large surgery and the possibility of infection and failure to heal present the biggest challenges. An infection can be serious and healing can take an extended period of time. The decision to undergo osteotomy is a shared decision between you and your doctor. Sometimes the osteotomy is part of a larger, long-term plan that may include additional surgeries in the future.

Medications
Prescription and non-prescription painkillers.

See Your Doctor If:
Pain, swelling, redness, drainage or bleeding increases in the knee or you experience any symptoms which suggest infection such as fever.

Last updated: 26-Oct-01


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