[Is knee osteotomy still indicated in knee osteoarthritis?]

Published online: Dec 27 2000

D N Antonescu.

Service d'Orthopédie, Hôpital Foisor, Bld dul Ferdinand, 35, sect. 2, 79826 Bucarest, Roumanie.


This study was undertaken to investigate whether high tibial osteotomy (HTO) still had a role in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee joint. The author has performed photoelasticity studies which confirmed abnormal stress distribution over the joint, as soon as its mechanical axis was deviated and the joint line had an obliquity over 10 degrees. High tibial osteotomy to correct varus or valgus deformity restores a symmetrical stress distribution and represents the only etiological treatment of secondary osteoarthritis of the knee. Two hundred and fifty HTO's were performed between 1971 and 1985 for osteoarthritis of the knee. The short-term result was good or very good in 75%, fair in 20% and poor in 5%. Fair and poor results were related to insufficient correction, to infection or mostly to incorrect indications. In 152 cases with a good or very good short term result, a further evaluation was made between 8 years and 15 years after operation. It was noted that osteoarthritis had been arrested in 105 cases (69%) whereas it had deteriorated in 47 cases. The main factors associated with further deterioration were insufficient correction and persistence of joint line obliquity. Provided on optimal correction is achieved (3 degrees to 6 degrees hypercorrection in valgus osteotomy, 0 degree in varus osteotomy) and provided a horizontal joint line is restored, HTO performed in good indications (Ahlback grade I or II) may provide good results for at least 10 to 15 years.