Proximal Metatarsal Osteotomy for Bunion (Hallux Valgus) Correction

Edited by Peter Stavrou, MD


A proximal metatarsal osteotomy is indicated for patients with a moderate to severe bunion deformity that has failed non-surgical management.


The first metatarsal is cut near the base of the bone and rotated. There are several types of proximal metatarsal osteotomies, all of which have the same goal of reducing the angle between the first and second metatarsal (also known as the "intermetatarsal angle"):
  • Ludloff osteotomy: an oblique cut is made along the side of the shaft of the first metatarsal, and rotated to reduce the angle
  • Cresentic osteotomy: a semi-circular cut is made back along the base of the first metatarsal, and rotated to reduce the angle
  • SCARF osteotomy: a Z shaped cut is made from the side of the first metatarsal, using most of it’s length to give it a more stable configuration. The bone is then moved and / or rotated to reduce the angle.

There are several other types of proximal metatarsal osteotomies, such as the proximal closing wedge osteotomy, the proximal chevron osteotomy, and the medial chevron opening wedge osteotomy, all of which have the same goal of reducing the intermetatarsal angle.Along with this procedure, the bunion (part of the metatarsal head) is also shaved off to make it less prominent and narrow the foot. A soft tissue procedure is performed on the first metatarsophalangeal joint, which releases the tight soft tissue structures on the lateral side of the first metatarsal (near the second toe) and tightens up the soft tissues on the medial side (over the bunion). This helps to correct the bunion deformity. This type of procedure is called the McBride Procedure.


During the first 6 weeks, the bone heals and patients are either limited or non-weight bearing depending on the complexity of their problem or surgeon preference. After an x-ray verifies that the bones have healed, the patient can advance to weight bearing, as tolerated in a protective shoe. Also after the 6 week mark, aggressive physical therapy is done to maintain or achieve as much motion as possible in the first metatarsal. By the 8-12 week mark, the patient can then transition into a stiff sole shoe.

During the first four months, 75% recovery is gained; however, it can be up to a year for maximal improvement. It's important after the initial swelling has settled, for the first metatarsal to be splinted in its corrected position and gently moved at the same time, so that stiffness is minimized.

General Complications

Specific Complications

  • Malunion (Bone heals in the wrong position): If a malunion occurs, pain is concentrated on other parts of the foot. The risk factors for a malunion include walking too early, inadequate fixation, and the correction not being accurate.
  • Nonunion or Delayed Union: Risk factors include being a smoker, walking too early, and inadequate fixation.
  • Overload second metatarsalgia (Transfer metatarsalgia): If the new position of the first metatarsal is such where that part of the foot is not taking its share of the weight, then more weight will be more concentrated at the base of the second metatarsal, resulting in painful symptoms
  • Pain/numbness around local nerves
  • Stiffness of the big toe: the metatarsophalangeal joint can develop arthritis in the future which is independent of the bunion or surgery for it.
  • Recurrence of the bunion deformity
  • Failure to fully correct bunion deformity
  • Over correction (Hallux Varus): this specific complication is related to the soft tissue procedure. If the soft tissue is released too much on the outside, the toe can curve inward, which is very difficult to correct requiring surgery.

A variety of bone cuts (osteotomies) of the first metatarsal have been described as a means of correcting bunion deformities. Bone cuts in the proximal (nearer to the ankle) part of the first metatarsal can more easily correct a larger bunion (greater deformity) than a distal Chevron osteotomy, performed in the more distal (nearer the big toe) aspect of the first metatarsal. Commonly performed proximal metatarsal osteotomies for bunion correction include:

Edited January 22, 2016

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