Peter G. Fitzgibbons, MD
Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon
Elbow Joint Replacement, also referred to as Total Elbow Arthroplasty is an operative procedure to treat the symptoms of arthritis that have not responded to non-surgical treatments.
The arm in the human body is made up of three bones that join together to form a hinge joint called the elbow. The upper arm bone or humerus connects from the shoulder to the elbow forming the top of the hinge joint. The lower arm or forearm consists of two bones, the radius and the ulna. These bones connect the wrist to the elbow forming the bottom portion of the hinge joint.
Arthritis is a general term that covers numerous conditions in which the joint surfaces wear out. The joint surface is covered by a smooth articular surface made of cartilage that allows pain free movement in the joint. This surface can wear out for a number of reasons. Often the definite cause is unknown.
When the articular cartilage wears out, the bone ends rub on one another causing pain. In general, but not always, arthritis affects people as they get older.
Elbow joint replacement surgery may be recommended by your surgeon for the treatment of severe arthritis that has not responded to conservative treatment options such as medications or steroid injections.
Other indications for elbow joint replacement surgery may include:
Elbow conditions should be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your surgeon will perform the following:
Tests will also be ordered and may include X-ray's and MRI scan.
Elbow joint replacement surgery is an option that your surgeon may recommend if your overall health is good and you have not had success with conservative treatments options.
The goal of elbow joint replacement surgery is to eliminate your pain and increase the mobility of your elbow joint. The surgery is performed under sterile conditions in an operating room under general or regional anesthesia and involves the following steps:
After surgery your surgeon will give you guidelines to follow depending on the type of repair performed and the surgeon’s preference.
Common Post-operative guidelines include:
Risks and Complications
The majority of patients suffer no complications following Elbow Joint Replacement, however, complications can occur following elbow surgery and include: