Background: Although high tibial osteotomy has been proved effective for the treatment of painful osteoarthritis of the medial compartment of the knee, the role of proximal tibial varus osteotomy for the treatment of painful osteoarthritis of the lateral compartment still remains controversial.
Methods: From 1974 to 1993, we performed proximal tibial varus osteotomy for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the lateral compartment of the knee in thirty-six consecutive patients. The procedure consisted of a proximal lateral opening-wedge varus osteotomy of the tibia with use of corticocancellous bone grafts from the iliac crest. The valgus deformity was posttraumatic in twenty-three patients, followed a lateral meniscectomy in five, was due to overcorrection of a varus deformity in four, and was idiopathic in four. The preoperative valgus deformity averaged 11.6° (range, 4° to 22°).
Results: At a mean of eleven years (range, five to twenty-one years) after the operation, the clinical results for thirty-four of the thirty-six patients were analyzed. None of the patients had severe progression of the osteoarthritis after the osteotomy, and none had a meaningful loss in the range of motion of the knee joint. A superficial wound infection developed in one patient, and another patient had thrombophlebitis. Three patients (9%) had a transient palsy of the peroneal nerve. According to the system of Insall et al., the mean knee score was 84 points (range, 54 to 99 points). According to the knee score described by Lysholm and Gillquist, the subjective result was excellent in nine patients (26%), good in twenty-one (62%), fair in three (9%), and poor in one (3%).
Conclusions: We concluded that when the indications outlined in this study are followed and our opening-wedge technique is used, a proximal lateral opening-wedge varus osteotomy of the tibia is a good alternative for the treatment of isolated osteoarthritis of the lateral compartment of the knee. High accuracy in preoperative planning, based on a slight overcorrection, is important to prevent failure.