Primary osteoarthritis of the ankle with no history of trauma is rare. We report the use of a low tibial osteotomy on 18 ankles in 18 patients, two men and 16 women. The osteotomy is designed to correct the varus tilt and anterior opening of the distal tibial joint surface where it has been shown by weight-bearing radiographs and arthroscopy that there is healthy articular cartilage on the lateral side of the ankle. An opening-wedge osteotomy was used to achieve slight overcorrection. Follow-up of the 18 ankles at an average of 6 Sears 11 months (2.7 to 12.10) showed the results by our own scoring system to be excellent in six: ankles, good in nine, and fair in three with no poor results. Of the three patients with fair results, two had been undercorrected and the third had little residual articular cartilage. Arthroscopic examination of ten ankles showed repair by fibrocartilage in seven. We conclude that slight overcorrection of deformity by low tibial osteotomy is effective in treating intermediate-stage primary osteoarthritis of the ankle.
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