by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A knee osteotomy is surgery to reshape and realign the leg.
Reasons for Procedure
This surgery is done to align the knee joint to take pressure off the damaged part. Damage is often due to osteoarthritis.
This surgery does not cure problems like osteoarthritis, but it may:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give:
Description of the Procedure
There are many ways to perform an osteotomy. In one method, images are used to measure the piece of bone that will be removed. An incision is made in the skin from the knee cap to the top of the shinbone. Several thin wires are placed in the knee to show where the bone should be cut. A wedge of bone will be removed. The remaining parts of the bone will be held together with staples, screws, or a plate and screws. The tissue will be stitched together and the area will be closed. A bandage will be placed over it
How Long Will It Take?
1 to 3 hours
Will It Hurt?
Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.
Average Hospital Stay
You may be able to go home in 2 to 3 days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
After the procedure, the staff may:
During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your chance of infection, such as:
You can also lower your chance of infection by:
It will take a few weeks for the incisions to heal. Full recovery can take 6 months. Physical activity will need to be limited at first. You will need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evidence-based guideline. 2nd ed. AAOS 2013 May 18 PDF, summary can be found at AAOS 2013 May 18 PDF.
Knee replacement surgery. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 17, 2020.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/osteoarthritis-oa-of-the-knee. Updated January 25, 2019. Accessed July 17, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 4/9/21
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