Total Elbow Replacement
Total elbow replacement involves that replacement of the whole elbow joint. This is performed for stiff arthritic elbows where the range of movement has become limiting or the pain in the elbow has become too severe for daily activities.
The artificial replacement joint has two components, the humeral component and the ulna component, which are inserted to the humerus bone, in the upper arm, and the ulna bone, the longer bone of the two forearm bones.
The components are secured using bone cement; however some replacements bond directly to the natural bone. The two components are then linked together with a plastic bearing surface to allow free movement to the new joint.
The procedure usually takes one and a half hours and requires patients to stay in hospital for two days after the operation.
Patients are encouraged to mobilise early, however they may be required to wear a plaster cast or brace for the first two weeks to protect the muscles and soft tissue following the procedure. Following the removal of the cast or brace, patients will undertake a rehabilitation programme aimed at maximising strength and function.
Typically, it could be up to six weeks until the patient has sufficient function to return to driving. Total elbow replacements usually have a lifespan of approximately ten years. Post-operative stiffness is a recognised complication of elbow replacement, and it is not unusual to have an end result with a range of movement of 30 to 130 degrees. However, the range achieved after replacement surgery is usually sufficient for all day to day activities.