Distal femoral varus osteotomy for unloading valgus knee malalignment: a biomechanical analysis

  • Martin Quirno
  • Kirk A. Campbell
  • Brian Singh
  • Saqib Hasan
  • Laith Jazrawi
  • Fredrick Kummer
  • Eric J. Strauss



To investigate the biomechanical properties of the load shifting following opening-wedge distal femoral varus osteotomies (DFVOs) and determine the osteotomy correction needed to unload the lateral compartment.


Five human cadaveric knees were tested with a load of 500 N of axial compression. Medial and lateral tibiofemoral compartment contact area and pressure were assessed utilizing a modified F-scan pressure-sensitive sensor. The knees were tested in their baseline anatomic alignment, 10° valgus malalignment and following corrective DFVOs of 5°, 10° and 15°. The load shifting effect of the various DFVO correction angles was analysed using a one-way ANOVA to determine the correction angle necessary to unload the lateral compartment.


Gradually shifting the loading vector medially with increasing DFVO angles resulted in a decrease in the mean contact area and mean contact pressures in the lateral compartment with progressive increases in the medial compartment. The largest reduction in lateral compartment pressure and contact area was seen with the 15° osteotomy with a 25 % decrease in mean contact pressure and 20 % decrease in mean maximum contact pressure and mean contact area when compared to the 10° valgus-malaligned knee. For the 10° valgus knee, a 15° correction resulted in near-normal contact pressures and areas compared with the knee in normal anatomic alignment.


Progressive unloading of the lateral tibiofemoral compartment occurred with increasing DFVO correction angles. Clinically, when performing a DFVO for valgus malalignment, surgeons should consider overcorrecting the osteotomy by 5° to restore near-normal contact pressures and contact areas in the lateral compartment rather than the traditional teaching of correcting to neutral alignment.


Cartilage Osteoarthritis Valgus deformity Distal femoral osteotomy Biomechanics 


Conflict of interest

No conflicts of interest exist for any authors related to the current study.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Quirno
    • 1
  • Kirk A. Campbell
    • 1
  • Brian Singh
    • 1
  • Saqib Hasan
    • 1
  • Laith Jazrawi
    • 1
  • Fredrick Kummer
    • 1
  • Eric J. Strauss
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryNew York University Hospital for Joint DiseasesNew YorkUSA

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