Surgical anatomy of medial open-wedge high tibial osteotomy: crucial steps and pitfalls

Henning Madry*, Lars Goebel, Alexander Hoffmann, Klaus Dück, Torsten Gerich, Romain Seil, Thomas Tschernig, Dietrich Pape

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: To give an overview of the basic knowledge of the functional surgical anatomy of the proximal lower leg and the popliteal region relevant to medial high tibial osteotomy (HTO) as key anatomical structures in spatial relation to the popliteal region and the proximal tibiofibular joint are usually not directly visible and thus escape a direct inspection. Methods: The surgical anatomy of the human proximal lower leg and its relevance for HTO are illustrated with a special emphasis on the individual steps of the operation involving creation of the osteotomy planes and plate fixation. Results: The posteriorly located popliteal neurovascular bundle, but also lateral structures such as the peroneal nerve, the head of the fibula and the lateral collateral ligament must be protected from the instruments used for osteotomy. Neither positioning the knee joint in flexion, nor the posterior thin muscle layer of the popliteal muscle offers adequate protection of the popliteal neurovascular bundle when performing the osteotomy. Tactile feedback through a loss-of-resistance when the opposite cortex is perforated is only possible when sawing and drilling is performed in a pounding fashion. Kirschner wires with a proximal thread, therefore, always need to be introduced under fluoroscopic control. Due to anatomy of the tibial head, the tibial slope may increase inadvertently. Conclusions: Enhanced surgical knowledge of anatomical structures that are at a potential risk during the different steps of osteotomy or plate fixation will help to avoid possible injuries. Level of evidence: Expert opinion, Level V.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3661-3669
    Number of pages9
    JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


    • Biplanar technique
    • High tibial osteotomy
    • Plate fixator
    • Popliteal neurovascular bundle


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