What is an Osteotomy?

What is an Osteotomy?

An osteotomy (“bone cutting”) is a surgical procedure used to treat a range of orthopedic conditions by cutting one or more bones (or pieces of bone) to repair joints and realign deformities. An orthopedic surgeon can help you decide if osteotomy surgery is right for you and your injury or condition.  

The surgeons at NewYork-Presbyterian are here to help you regain your mobility without pain. We offer advanced surgery and comprehensive care to individuals of all ages and orthopedic needs.

Types of Osteotomies


Osteotomy surgeries to treat different bones and joints include the following:

  • Knee osteotomy is a surgical procedure in which your doctor will cut and realign the knee joint. You may prefer to have knee osteotomy surgery if you have knee arthritis in only part of your knee to avoid or delay full knee replacement. Osteotomies around the knee are also frequently used for adolescents with bowed legs or knock knees to realign the lower limb. 
  • Hip osteotomy involves reshaping the hip bone and cartilage to make the bone and joint stronger. Hip osteotomies are typically done on adolescents; in certain cases, elderly patients may have this procedure instead of a hip replacement.
  • Toe osteotomy refers to a procedure to treat a painful bump at the base of the big toe (aka bunion) by restoring the toe’s alignment. The specific technique needed depends on the type of toe deformity. 
  • Spine osteotomy is a surgical procedure used to correct certain deformities of the adult or pediatric spine
  • Jaw osteotomy corrects irregularities of the jaw bones by realigning the jaws and teeth to improve the way they function, as well as a patient’s facial appearance
  • Chin osteotomy is used to correct deformities or for aesthetic purposes, such as narrowing a broad or square chin

How is an Osteotomy Performed?


Your doctor will discuss anesthesia options with you before the osteotomy. Depending on the surgery, you’ll receive general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia. 

The length of the surgery is highly variable and deends on the location and magnitude of the deformity being addressed. Osteotomies of the foot may be completed in as short as one to two hours, whereas hip reconstructive osteotomies may take longer.   

The osteotomy procedure involves only the cutting of the bone—correcting the deformity may require various types of metal implants (intramedullary nails, plates and screws, smooth wires) to hold the correction once complete. 

Occasionally, a segment of bone graft – either from your body or from a donated specimen – may be used to facilitate correction and healing. Once fully healed from the surgery, the metal implants may be removed in some cases and left in place permanently in others. 

Risks to Consider


At NewYork-Presbyterian, we emphasize patients’ safety so that infection and complication rates are low. However, all surgeries carry a risk of potential complications.

Risks of osteotomy surgeries include:

  • Infection in the bone and/or in the surrounding soft tissues   
  • Injuries to nerves or blood vessels 
  • Lingering pain
  • Failure of the bone to heal properly
  • Incomplete correction of the deformity
  • Stiffness of the surrounding joints

Preparing for Surgery


If the surgery is performed under full anesthesia, your doctor may make the following recommendations for your safety before the osteotomy:

  • Avoid food and drink the hours before osteotomy surgery to reduce potential complications. Your doctor will provide specific instructions for when to stop eating and drinking. 
  • Arrange for transportation home after the surgery

What to Expect After an Osteotomy

After the Surgery

Depending on the specific osteotomy procedure, patients may be hospitalized for a night or two. Before discharging you from the hospital, your doctor and/or care team will guide you on ways to control pain and minimize discomfort, physical therapy, and any limitations of mobility or weight bearing. Depending on the type of surgery, most patients return to their everyday routine after 6 weeks or so and can resume athletic activity after several months.

Get Care

Osteotomy at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia Orthopedics

NewYork-Presbyterian offers comprehensive orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, and advanced musculoskeletal care for people of all ages. Our orthopedic specialists provide operative and nonoperative care and trauma treatment for musculoskeletal injuries. Contact us today to make an appointment.