Is osteotomy a good idea for treating knee arthritis?

Within the world of orthopedic surgery, the question of whether or not a knee osteotomy procedure is a good idea for a patient currently suffering from knee arthritis is an extremely delicate and contentious one, and it has managed to polarize the medical community in an extremely dramatic fashion.

What is osteotomy?

A knee osteotomy is a form of orthoepedic surgery designed to help alleviate and combat the worst effects of knee arthritis and it is specifically designed to help reduce the development of the disease, control the extent of the stiffness and pain experienced by the patient who has the knee arthritis as well as hopefully delay the need for any additional, more invasive and radical surgery for a while longer. In short, knee ostetomy has been described by some medics as the “surgery for buying time” and this is a pretty accurate summary of the procedure as a whole.

What does it involve?

Whenever a person develops knee arthritis, this means that the condition will affect their joints, damaging and wearing out the cartilage that is present within the knee, effectively destroying it from within. However, the aggressive nature of knee arthritis is only matched by its unpredictable nature and so the actual progress of the disease cannot always be measured. As a consequence it can affect one part of the knee more than the others, and this can make things worse as it means that there is more pressure on the already severely weakened part of the knee.

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The purpose of knee osteotomy then, is to prevent this vicious cycle from occurring by forcing the body to place its weight through the healthier part of the joint as opposed to the arthritic part.

What are the risks?
Knee osteotomy is not a cure and so it places extra stress and strain on the healthier part of the knee joint. This in turn means that this part of the knee will wear out more quickly, thereby meaning that the patient may require more radical surgery in as little as a few years. There is also the risk of a  blood clot and or infection developing after the procedure has been performed, and the worst case scenario for this would be amputation.

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