JBJS Editor’s Choice: HTO Remains Relevant

marc-swiontkowski-2Sport activity continues to increase in priority in modern society. And with a concomitant increase in single-sport focus early in life and near year-round training, the incidence of knee injuries will also continue to increase.  Among surgeons and patients, there has been some waning of interest in high tibial osteotomy (HTO) for the most common form of unicompartmental arthritis because results from   unicompartmental arthroplasty keep improving, but HTO remains an appropriate choice for patients with very high functional demand.

In the September 21, 2016 issue of The Journal, Ekhtiari et al. report on the findings of a well-conducted systematic review on return-to-work and -sport outcomes of HTO. The authors found that more than four-fifths of patients returned to work or sport, usually within a year after surgery. Approximately four-fifths of patients returned to sport at a level equal to or greater than their preoperative level, and among non-military patients included in the review, 97.8% returned to work at an equal or greater level.

As with most systematic reviews in orthopaedic surgery, the basic concern here is with the quality of the literature that forms the basis of the analysis. The vast majority of studies included in the review were Level IV case series, which leads to concerns about selection and detection bias. Those concerns notwithstanding, a return to sport activity of 87% at a mean follow-up of longer than 5 years is remarkable.

We must recognize that patients who wish to return to sport are the most highly motivated population we serve. HTO should not fall off our radar screen of options for patients with high functional demand and medial compartment arthritis, for they can be some of the most satisfied patients we treat.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

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