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Elbow replacement

Total elbow arthroplasty; Endoprosthetic elbow replacement; Arthritis - elbow arthroplasty; Osteoarthritis - elbow arthroplasty; Degenerative arthritis - elbow arthroplasty; DJD - elbow arthroplasty

Elbow replacement is surgery to replace the elbow joint with artificial joint parts (prosthetics).

Images

Elbow prosthesis

Description

The elbow joint connects three bones:

The artificial elbow joint has two or three stems made of high-quality metal. A metal and plastic hinge joins the stems together and allows the artificial joint to bend. Artificial joints come in different sizes to fit people of different sizes.

The surgery is done in the following way:

The wound is closed with stitches, and a bandage is applied. Your arm may be placed in a splint to keep it stable.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Elbow replacement surgery is usually done if the elbow joint is badly damaged and you have pain or cannot use your arm. Some causes of damage are:

Risks

Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general include:

Risks of this procedure include:

Before the Procedure

Tell your surgeon what medicines you are taking, including drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the 2 weeks before your surgery:

On the day of your surgery:

After the Procedure

You may need to stay in the hospital for up to 1 to 2 days. After you go home, follow instructions on how to care for your wound and elbow.

Physical therapy will be needed to help you gain strength and use of your arm. It will start with gentle flexing exercises. People who have a splint usually start therapy a few weeks later than those who do not have a splint.

Some people can start to use their new elbow as soon as 12 weeks after surgery. Complete recovery can take up to a year. There will be limits to how much weight you can lift. Lifting too heavy of a load can break the replacement elbow or loosen the parts. Talk to your surgeon about your limitations.

It is important to follow-up with your doctor regularly to check how your replacement is doing. Be sure to go to all your appointments. 

Outlook (Prognosis)

Elbow replacement surgery eases pain for most people. It can also increase the range of motion of your elbow joint. A second elbow replacement surgery is usually not as successful as the first one.

Related Information

Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Surgical wound care - open
Elbow replacement - discharge

References

Cohen MS, Chen NC. Total elbow arthroplasty. In: Wolfe SW, Hotchkiss RN, Pederson WC, Kozin SH, Cohen MS, eds. Green's Operative Hand Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 27.

Throckmorton TW. Shoulder and elbow arthroplasty. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 12.

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Review Date: 7/25/2020  

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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