Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Osteotomy for Osteoarthritis

Osteotomy for Osteoarthritis

Surgery Overview

Osteotomy ("bone cutting") is a procedure in which a surgeon removes, or sometimes adds, a wedge of bone near a damaged joint. This shifts weight from an area where there is damaged cartilage to an area where there is more or healthier cartilage.

In osteoarthritis, cartilage breakdown in the knee often is much greater in the inner part of the knee joint, often resulting in a bowlegged appearance. Surgery to shift the weight away from the inner knee is one of the most common uses of osteotomy for osteoarthritis. The idea is to tilt your body weight toward the outer, healthier part of the knee cartilage and away from the inner, damaged cartilage. Weight is then spread more evenly across the joint cartilage. The surgery may be done in one of several ways. It may be done on the thighbone (femur) or the large lower leg bone (tibia).

The most common way to use osteotomy for osteoarthritis of the inner knee is to remove a wedge of bone from the outer side of the large lower leg bone (tibia) near the knee. After removing the bone wedge, your surgeon will bring together the remaining bones and secure them, most often with either pins or staples.

Osteotomy for osteoarthritis of the inner knee could also include adding a wedge of bone to the inner tibia, or adding or removing bone from the femur. Osteoarthritis of the outer knee is treated in just the opposite way. For example, your surgeon may remove bone from the inner side of the lower leg to shift the weight toward the inner knee.

Osteotomy may be effective for hip and knee joints. Doctors often do an osteotomy to correct certain knee deformities such as bowleg (varus) and knock-knee (valgus) deformities of the knees. Hip osteotomy involves removing bone from the upper thighbone (femur). Osteotomy may allow an active person to postpone a total joint replacement for a few years and is usually reserved for younger people.

What To Expect

What To Expect

Recovery depends on the surgical technique as well as the strength and motivation of the person having surgery. A cast or splint may limit movement of the joint for 4 to 8 weeks.

You will start physical therapy immediately, even if you are in a cast or splint. When the cast is removed, you can put your full weight on the joint 10 to 12 weeks after the surgery. It may take up to a year for the knee to fully adjust to its corrected position.

Why It Is Done

Why It Is Done

Doctors use osteotomy if destruction of the knee cartilage mainly affects a single disc of cartilage: the disc (meniscus) either on the inner part or on the outer part of the knee joint.

Osteotomy is an appropriate treatment for younger, active people with osteoarthritis who are able to delay a total joint replacement.

How Well It Works

How Well It Works

Osteotomy is most often done in younger people. It can help relieve pain and delay the need for joint replacement. footnote 1

Risks

Risks

  • A failure of the bones to heal
  • Bones that don't align as they heal
  • Blood clotting
  • Bleeding in the joint
  • Inflammation of joint tissues, nerve damage, or infection
References

References

Citations

  1. Lozada CJ (2013). Treatment of osteoarthritis. In GS Firestein et al., eds., Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1646–1659. Philadelphia: Saunders.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details