The literal meaning of the word osteotomy is cutting of the bone. In medical science osteotomy is referred as a surgical procedure whereby a bone is cut to shorten, lengthen, or correct its alignment. The surgery is performed under a general anesthetic inside an operation theatre.
The major focus of osteotomy is to relieve pain in arthritis, specifically of the hip and knee. This procedure may help an active person to postpone a total joint replacement for a few years and is usually recommended for younger people.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the bones of knee and leg do not line up in the proper manner. This condition can put extra stress on the inner and outer side of your knee. In course of time, this extra pressure can wear away the polished cartilage that protects the bones, inducing pain and stiffness in your knee.
For osteroarthritis of the inner knee, knee osteotomy is done to remove a wedge of the bone from the outer side of the lower leg bone at the knee joint. Now, your body weight is tilted toward the outer, healthier part of the knee cartilage and away from the inner, damaged cartilage. The weight is spread more equally across the joint cartilage. After taking out the bone wedge, your surgeon will bring together the remaining bones and secure them, most frequently with either pins or staples. An osteotomy for osteoarthritis of the outer knee is just the reverse process.
Physicians commonly perform a knee osteotomy to also correct other bony deformities such as bowleg and knock-knee. Hip osteotomy is performed similarly by removing bone from the upper thighbone (femur).
You probably spent 2 to 4 days in the hospital after an osteotomy. However, recovery depends on strength and motivation of the person having surgery. A cast or splint may help in restricting movement of the operated joint for 4 to 8 weeks. A physical therapist can contribute much to your recovery process.
Osteotomy is a viable option for younger patients to lead a more active lifestyle for many years. Some of these patients may require a joint replacement in the distant future; even then, osteotomy can be an effective way to buy time until a replacement is required.