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An osteotomy is a procedure usually performed to correct damage caused by osteoarthritis or a deformity. A tibial osteotomy is performed when only one side of your knee shows damage.

During a tibial osteotomy your surgeon will adjust the alignment of your lower leg (tibia) and knee so your body weight is shifted toward a healthier part of the cartilage of your knee.

What happens during tibial osteotomy?

Tibial osteotomy is usually performed under general anaesthetic and takes 1 – 2 hours. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) from just below your knee. They will remove a wedge of bone on the outside of your tibia just under the side of your knee that has healthy cartilage. They will close the wedge with a metal plate or pins to bring the bones in the healthy side of your knee closer and allow for more space in the damaged side. This eases the pressure on the damaged side of your knee allowing you to carry your weight more comfortably.

They will close your wound with stitches or staples and apply a dressing. You may have a cast or brace to protect your knee leg as it heals. We will give you medication for pain relief. Be sure and ask a member of our healthcare team if you are in any pain.

Most patients stay in hospital 1-2 days after osteotomy. A physiotherapist will visit you to give you gentle exercises and assist you in beginning to more around on your own. You will need to use crutches for several weeks.

Going home after tibial osteotomy

You will not be able to drive for several weeks. Please arrange for someone to take you home on your day of discharge.

Continue to take any pain medication if you need it. Ice packs and elevating  your leg to help control any swelling.

After 10 – 14 days you will need to return to hospital to have your stitches removed.

You will continue to work with a physiotherapist to gain range of motion and begin bearing weight on your operated side. Your exercises will also begin to increase your muscle strength and endurance.

About 6 weeks after your surgery you will have a follow-up appointment with your consultant. They will take an x-ray to confirm if the bones are growing. Full recovery can take up to 12 months.

Many patients notice decreased pain and increased mobility following tibial osteotomy. With any surgery there can be complications:

Specific complications of tibial osteotomy:

  • Stiffness in the knee
  • Damage to nerves
  • Failure of bone growth
  • Need for total knee replacement

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