Elbow replacement

Definition

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

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 bandaged 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 stay in the hospital for up to 2 or 3 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.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Elbow replacement surgery eases pain for most people. A second elbow replacement surgery is usually not as successful as the first one.


Review Date: 9/22/2016
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, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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