Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: High tibial osteotomy (HTO) re-aligns the weight-bearing axis (WBA) of the lower limb. The surgery reduces medial load (reducing pain and slowing progression of cartilage damage) while avoiding overloading the lateral compartment. The optimal correction has not been established. This study investigated how different WBA re-alignments affected load distribution in the knee, to consider the optimal post-surgery re-alignment. METHODS: We collected motion analysis and seven Tesla MRI data from three healthy subjects, and combined this data to create sets of subject-specific finite element models (total=45 models). Each set of models simulated a range of potential post-HTO knee re-alignments. We shifted the WBA from its native alignment to between 40% and 80% medial-lateral tibial width (corresponding to 2.8°-3.1° varus and 8.5°-9.3° valgus), in three percent increments. We then compared stress/pressure distributions in the models. RESULTS: Correcting the WBA to 50% tibial width (0° varus-valgus) approximately halved medial compartment stresses, with minimal changes to lateral stress levels, but provided little margin for error in undercorrection. Correcting the WBA to a more commonly-used 62%-65% tibial width (3.4°-4.6° valgus) further reduced medial stresses but introduced the danger of damaging lateral compartment tissues. To balance optimal loading environment with that of the historical risk of under-correction, we propose a new target: WBA correction to 55% tibial width (1.7°-1.9° valgus), which anatomically represented the apex of the lateral tibial spine. CONCLUSIONS: Finite element models can successfully simulate a variety of HTO re-alignments. Correcting the WBA to 55% tibial width (1.7°-1.9° valgus) optimally distributes medial and lateral stresses/pressures.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





286 - 295


Finite element modeling, High tibial osteotomy, Knee alignment, Knee re-alignment, Osteoarthritis, Weight-bearing axis, Adult, Female, Finite Element Analysis, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Models, Statistical, Osteoarthritis, Knee, Osteotomy, Tibia