Objective: No randomized controlled trial (RCT) has compared the high tibial osteotomy (HTO) with non-surgical treatment in patients with medial knee osteoarthritis (OA) and varus malalignment. The aim was to compare the effectiveness of an unloader brace treatment or a usual care program to the HTO regarding pain severity and knee function. Design: Surgical treatment (HTO) to two non-surgical options was compared by combining the data of two RCTs. One RCT (n = 117) compared an unloader brace to usual care treatment; the other RCT (n = 92) compared closing to opening wedge HTO. One-to-many propensity score matching was used to equalize patient characteristics. We compared clinical outcome at 1 year follow-up (VAS pain (0-10) and knee function (HSS, 0-100)) with mixed model analysis. Results: Propensity score matching resulted in a comparison of 30 brace patient with 83 HTO patients, and of 28 usual care patients with 71 HTO patients. Pain at 1 year after HTO (VAS 3.8) was lower than after valgus bracing (VAS 5.0) with a mean difference of -1.1 (95% CI -2.2; -0.1). Function showed a nonsignificant mean difference of 2.1 [95% CI -3.1; 7.3]. Comparing HTO to usual care a difference was seen in pain (-1.7 [95% CI -2.8; -0.6]) and function (6.6 [95% CI 0.2; 13.1]), in favor of the HTO. Conclusions: Our data suggest that HTO was more effective in pain reduction compared to both non-surgical treatments. Function improved only when HTO was compared to usual care treatment. These small differences question the benefits of surgical treatment over the brace treatment.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Bracing, HTO, OA, Propensity score matching
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2017.09.003, hdl.handle.net/1765/102282
Journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
van Outeren, M.V. (M. V.), Waarsing, J.H, Brouwer, R.W, Verhaar, J.A.N, Reijman, M, & Bierma-Zeinstra, S.M. (2017). Is a high tibial osteotomy (HTO) superior to non-surgical treatment in patients with varus malaligned medial knee osteoarthritis (OA)?. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 2017(in press), 1–6. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2017.09.003