Knee Osteotomy as a Knee Replacement Alternative
Knee arthritis can make even simple everyday activities difficult and painful. Arthritis is caused by deterioration of the articular cartilage, which may be due to a hereditary predisposition or a previous traumatic knee injury. Knee replacement surgery, total knee arthroplasty, is often the management recommendation. However, not all patients with progressive knee arthritis are candidates for knee replacement surgery. Certain patients may be too young while other patients may wish to prolong the replacement surgery as long as possible. An osteotomy of the knee can be performed for specific individuals and is designed to alleviate knee pain and improve function by reshaping the tibia or femur bone to reduce the contact forces on the arthritic area. Dr. Mark Getelman, orthopedic knee surgeon in the Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California area, offers knee osteotomy for specific patients wishing to alleviate pain who are not ideally ready for knee replacement surgery.
A knee osteotomy is generally reserved for patients who have damage on just one side of the joint. During this surgical procedure, Dr. Getelman will cut either the femur (thigh bone) or tibia (shin bone) and then reshape the bone. The surgery can be performed with either a closing or opening wedge technique. An opening wedge osteotomy has gained great popularity in recent years and uses a structural bone graft and plates and screws to hold the bones in a newly aligned position. Reshaping the bone relieves pressure on the joint by shifting the body’s weight off the damaged area and onto a healthier portion. These biomechanical changes provide a decrease in knee pain and an increase in joint function.
The knee osteotomy is highly effective in the majority of patients. The procedure is designed to provide several years of improvement and delay a knee replacement. However, many patients still ultimately require the knee replacement.