[Open wedge osteotomy of the tibial head. Management of vascular complications].
BACKGROUND: Lesions of the popliteal artery during high tibial osteotomy are rare complications, consequently the majority of publications are case related. The interval between surgery and diagnosis is reported to be as long 3 years; therefore, the current literature probably does not reflect the true incidence of vascular injuries. OBJECTIVE: The case reports published in the literature were further evaluated. The focus was on the normal vascular anatomy of the popliteal region and anatomical deviations that predispose to vascular injury. As the flexion angle of the knee joint is considered to be decisive for vascular injury, this aspect was also an additional focus. For the unlikely event of a vascular injury, recommendations are presented which indicate diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. METHODS: We analyzed the available literature and present own magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) investigations of the popliteal artery with different angles of flexion in six healthy volunteers. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: A variation of the origin of the anterior tibial artery with a course between the posterior tibial cortex and the popliteal muscle was found in 6% of all patients and predisposes to an accidental injury during osteotomy. The results in the literature and our own MRI findings suggest that a flexion angle of 90 degrees facilitates anatomical dissection and osteotomy but cannot be regarded as a reliable protection against vascular injury.