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Elbow Replacement (Arthroplasty)

What is Elbow Replacement (Arthroplasty)?

Elbow replacement involves replacing the joint surfaces of the elbow with an implant. In some cases, all of the joint surfaces are replaced (total elbow arthroplasty), and in others, only one side of the joint is replaced (hemiarthroplasty).

Total Elbow Arthroplasty

A total elbow arthroplasty removes the damaged ends of the bones on both sides of the joint and replaces them with metal and plastic components. These components join together like a hinge to allow the elbow to move.

Total elbow arthroplasty is usually used to treat severe elbow arthritis, but it may also be used to manage severe elbow fractures in older patients. 

A total elbow arthroplasty provides good relief of persistent pain and reduced movement. However, the implant is not as strong as a normal elbow. Patients that have a total elbow arthroplasty have a permanent lifting restriction placed on them. If too much load is put through a total elbow arthroplasty it can wear out early and become loose. 

Elbow Hemiarthroplasty

In an elbow hemiarthroplasty, the end of the humerus bone is replaced with a metal component. The ends of the other bones in the elbow joint are not replaced.

Elbow hemiarthroplasty is generally used to manage certain severe elbow fractures. 

Radial Head Replacement

The part of the radius bone that forms the elbow joint is shaped like a disc. In a radial head replacement, this disc is replaced by a similarly shaped component made off metal or plastic. Radial head replacement is usually used to manage severe fractures of the radial head. This may be at the time of the initial injury, or to address fractures that have failed to heal properly and are causing problems in the elbow. 

After Elbow Replacement

After an elbow replacement procedure, you will be in a sling and generally, you will stay one night in the hospital. In some cases, you may also have a plaster splint across your elbow. This splint is removed at the time of your post-operative wound check.

It is important to begin controlled movement of the elbow following elbow replacement surgery. To help with this you will be seen by a physiotherapist whilst you are in hospital, and then again at your post-operative appointment.

For more information on elbow replacement, we recommend contacting our surgeons for an initial consultation. 

Surgeons that perform this procedure

Mr Brendan Soo

Orthopaedic Surgeon

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Mr Harry Clitherow

Orthopaedic Surgeon

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