A residual intra-articular varus after medial opening wedge high tibial osteotomy (HTO) for varus osteoarthritis of the knee

  • Weiping Ji
  • Congfeng LuoEmail author
  • Yu Zhan
  • Xuetao Xie
  • Qifang He
  • Binbin Zhang
Orthopaedic Surgery



Varus deformity of knee osteoarthritis was formed by both intra-articular and extra-articular pathologies. Such intra-articular deformities could not be fully corrected by a medial open-wedge high tibial osteotomy (HTO), which was performed as an extra-articular procedure. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether any residual varus was left inside the joint after HTO in the patients with knee osteoarthritis, and a correlation of the residual varus could be traced.


This study involved 66 patients (66 knees) undergoing HTO for medial knee osteoarthritis. The percentage of mechanical axis (%MA), mechanical femorotibial angle (mFTA), mechanical lateral distal femoral angle (mLDFA), mechanical medial proximal tibial angle (mMPTA) and joint line convergence angle (JLCA) were measured on radiographs of the full-length legs preoperatively and 6 months postoperatively. The relationship between changes in the JLCA and alignment correction was assessed. The postoperative residual JLCA was categorized as the optimal (postoperative JLCA ≤ 2°), the acceptable (2° < postoperative JLCA ≤ 5°), and the unacceptable (postoperative JLCA > 5°) to analyze its correlation with pre- or intra-operative factors.


Average %MA and mFTA were improved from 5.5 to 60% and from 190.2° to 176.4°, respectively. There was no change in mLDFA, whereas mMPTA changed from 80.3° to 91.8°. JLCA changed from 4.2° to 2.7°. The analyses of multiple linear regression showed that the preoperative JLCA and postoperative changes in mechanical alignment (%MA, mFTA and mMPTA) were two important variables dependently associated with differences in JLCAs postoperatively. However, postoperative JLCAs showed a stronger correlation to preoperative JLCAs than to changes in mechanical alignment postoperatively. A Chi-square analysis showed a significantly higher percentage of patients achieved acceptable postoperative JLCAs in the preoperative JLCA ≤ 6° group (78.8%) compared to the preoperative JLCA > 6° group (6.1%). Therefore, 6° of JLCA was suggested to be a tipping point.


The capability of HTO to correct intra-articular varus deformities, which was represented by JLCAs, is limited. Postoperative residual JLCAs were correlated primarily to preoperative JLCA values and total alignment correction, while the former accounted for most. A preoperative JLCA of 6° was suggested to be a tipping point, and a larger value indicated more than 5° residual JLCA after the HTO.


Knee osteoarthritis Varus deformity High tibial osteotomy Intra-articular varus deformity Extra-articular varus deformity Joint line convergence angle 



The project was supported by the National natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 81572118).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Project supported by the National natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 81572118).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Affiliated Sixth People’s HospitalShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina

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