Return to Duty in Military Servicemembers After High Tibial Osteotomy Not Associated With Preoperative Radiographic Parameters: A Retrospective Analysis

Scott M. Feeley*, Daniel L. Rodkey, Colin J. Harrington, Kaitlin Porter, Logan McMillan, Annunziato Amendola, Sean E. Slaven, Jonathan F. Dickens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Evidence on return to sports/work after high tibial osteotomy (HTO) is limited, especially in a young, high-demand population. Purpose: To (1) identify whether preoperative knee pathology or intraoperative correction was associated with successful return to duty (RTD) and (2) assess whether postoperative complications and reoperation were associated with failure to RTD. Study Design: Case series; Level of Evidence, 4. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of a consecutive series of patients in the Military Health System aged 18 to 55 years with medial compartment osteoarthritis who underwent HTO between 2003 and 2018. Concomitant meniscal and cartilage procedures were included, while cases with concomitant ligamentous procedures were excluded. The inclusion criteria were as follows: active-duty military status, minimum 2-year follow-up, preoperative knee radiographs, and pre- and postoperative long-leg alignment radiographs. Preoperative Kellgren-Lawrence grades and pre- and postoperative hip-knee-ankle angles were measured. The primary outcome was RTD. Failure was defined as knee-related medical separation from the military or conversion to total knee arthroplasty. The secondary outcome was reoperation. Results: A total of 55 HTOs were performed in 50 patients who met the inclusion criteria, with a mean age of 39 years old (range, 22.8-55 years). The mean follow-up was 5 years (range, 2.1-10.7 years). Ten knees (18.2%) failed HTO (1 conversion to total knee arthroplasty, 9 medical separations), 15 additional knees (27.3%) had permanent activity restrictions, and 30 knees (54.5%) returned to duty without restrictions. Reoperation occurred in 36.4% of knees and was associated with medical separation (P =.039). Younger age was associated with medical separation (P =.003) and permanent restrictions (P =.006). Patients with a postoperative varus deformity of >5° were more likely to undergo medical separation (P =.023). Conclusion: In a young, high-demand population, HTO succeeded in returning 54.5% of knees to full duty without restriction despite 36.4% of knees requiring reoperation. Residual varus deformity or reoperation was associated with lower RTD rates. No association was identified between RTD and preoperative osteoarthritis grading or deformity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • alignment
  • articular cartilage
  • knee
  • military training
  • return to sports

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