metatarsal head osteotomy

Metatarsal Head Osteotomy in Podiatry

Metatarsal Head Osteotomy in Podiatry

Introduction to Metatarsal Head Osteotomy

Metatarsal head osteotomy is a surgical procedure commonly performed in podiatry. It involves the repositioning or removal of a portion of the metatarsal head, which is the rounded end of the long bone in the foot. This procedure aims to alleviate pain, correct deformities, and improve function in the foot.

Definition and Purpose

A metatarsal head osteotomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting and reshaping the metatarsal head to address various foot conditions. The purpose of this procedure is to relieve pain, correct structural abnormalities, and improve overall foot function.

Conditions Treated by Metatarsal Head Osteotomy

Metatarsal head osteotomy is commonly used to treat conditions such as bunions (hallux valgus), hammertoes, metatarsalgia, and arthritis in the metatarsophalangeal joint. These conditions can cause pain, deformities, and difficulty in walking or wearing shoes comfortably.

Preoperative Considerations

Patient Assessment

Prior to performing a metatarsal head osteotomy, a thorough patient assessment is conducted. This assessment includes a comprehensive medical history, physical examination, and evaluation of the patient’s symptoms. It is crucial to identify any underlying health conditions or factors that may affect the surgical outcome.

Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or MRI scans, may be ordered to evaluate the severity of the foot condition and to determine the most appropriate surgical approach. These images help the podiatrist visualize the bone structure and plan the osteotomy procedure accordingly.



Metatarsal head osteotomy is typically performed under regional or general anesthesia, depending on the patient’s preference and the surgeon’s recommendation. The anesthesia ensures that the patient remains comfortable and pain-free throughout the procedure.

Surgical Techniques

There are various surgical techniques used for metatarsal head osteotomy, including crescentic, chevron, and scarf osteotomies. The choice of technique depends on the specific foot condition being treated and the surgeon’s expertise. During the procedure, the surgeon carefully cuts and reshapes the metatarsal head to correct deformities and improve alignment.

Equipment Used

The surgical equipment used during a metatarsal head osteotomy may include specialized instruments, bone saws, drills, screws, and plates. These tools help the surgeon perform precise bone cuts, fixate the bones in the desired position, and ensure stability and proper healing.

Postoperative Care

Recovery Timeline

The recovery timeline after a metatarsal head osteotomy varies depending on the complexity of the procedure and the individual patient. Generally, patients can expect to be non-weight bearing or use crutches for a few weeks after surgery. Full recovery may take several months, during which physical therapy and gradual weight-bearing exercises are incorporated.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the postoperative care of patients who have undergone a metatarsal head osteotomy. A physical therapist will guide patients through exercises aimed at improving strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the foot. These exercises help restore normal foot function and promote proper healing.

Benefits and Risks

Benefits of Metatarsal Head Osteotomy

Metatarsal head osteotomy offers several benefits for patients with foot conditions. It can help alleviate pain, improve foot alignment and function, correct deformities, and enhance overall quality of life. The procedure aims to restore normal foot mechanics and enable patients to engage in activities without discomfort or limitations.

Potential Risks and Complications

As with any surgical procedure, metatarsal head osteotomy carries certain risks and potential complications. These may include infection, blood clots, nerve damage, delayed bone healing, and recurrence of deformities. It is important for patients to discuss these risks with their podiatrist and follow postoperative care instructions diligently to minimize the chance of complications.

Alternative Treatments

Non-surgical Options

In some cases, non-surgical treatment options may be considered before opting for metatarsal head osteotomy. These options may include the use of orthotics, physical therapy, pain management techniques, and lifestyle modifications. Non-surgical approaches are usually recommended for mild cases or when the patient’s health condition does not allow for surgery.

Other Surgical Procedures

Depending on the specific foot condition, there may be alternative surgical procedures to metatarsal head osteotomy. These procedures include joint fusion, tendon transfer, or joint replacement. The choice of procedure depends on the patient’s condition, the severity of the deformity, and the surgeon’s expertise.


Metatarsal head osteotomy is a valuable surgical procedure in the field of podiatry. It offers effective treatment for various foot conditions, alleviating pain, correcting deformities, and improving overall foot function. However, it is important for patients to be well-informed about the procedure, its benefits, risks, and alternative treatments. Consulting with a skilled podiatrist is crucial to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for individual cases.

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metatarsal head osteotomy