by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Osteotomy, Knee)


A knee osteotomy is surgery to reshape and realign the leg.

The Kneecap
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Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done to align the knee joint to take pressure off the damaged part. Damage is often due to osteoarthritis.

This surgery does not cure problems like osteoarthritis, but it may:

  • Ease pain
  • Help the knee move better
  • Put off further damage
  • Lower the need for total knee replacement surgery

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Shortening of the leg
  • Injuries to nerves or blood vessels

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • The medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Arranging a ride to and from surgery
  • Tests that will need to be done before surgery, such as images of knee


The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

There are many ways to perform an osteotomy. In one method, images are used to measure the piece of bone that will be removed. An incision is made in the skin from the knee cap to the top of the shinbone. Several thin wires are placed in the knee to show where the bone should be cut. A wedge of bone will be removed. The remaining parts of the bone will be held together with staples, screws, or a plate and screws. The tissue will be stitched together and the area will be closed. A bandage will be placed over it

How Long Will It Take?

1 to 3 hours

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.

Average Hospital Stay

You may be able to go home in 2 to 3 days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

After the procedure, the staff may:

  • Give you pain medicine
  • Protect the knee with a splint or brace
  • Teach you how to use crutches

During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

You can also lower your chance of infection by:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your incisions
At Home

It will take a few weeks for the incisions to heal. Full recovery can take 6 months. Physical activity will need to be limited at first. You will need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, more pain, a lot of bleeding, or any leaking from the incision
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Numbness, tingling, or a change in color in your leg, foot, or toes
  • Your leg, foot, or toes appear chalky white, blue, or black

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 


Canadian Orthopaedic Association 

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation 


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evidence-based guideline. 2nd ed. AAOS 2013 May 18 PDF, summary can be found at AAOS 2013 May 18 PDF.

Knee replacement surgery. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:,P07673/. Accessed July 17, 2020.

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated January 25, 2019. Accessed July 17, 2020.

Revision Information