Elbow replacement is a surgical intervention during which the surgeon will replace the elbow joint with a prosthesis (implant). This surgery provides significant improvement in pain and function in the affected area.
Who can get an elbow replacement?
There are numerous reasons for which the doctor or the surgeon would recommend elbow replacement surgery.
· Loss of elbow joint due to an accident
· osteoarthritis of the elbow,
· primary origin for a weak or ruined elbow joint
· an inflammatory disease (ex. rheumatoid arthritis)
How is the procedure?
Before the surgery, the surgeon needs a few radiographs of the affected area or maybe an MRI. The surgery is performed under general it will take about 2 hours. The surgeon will replace the elbow joint with a prosthesis which is made of two implants that attach to the arm bones arm.
There would be one or a few scars, which will be barely visible after some time. Elbow replacement surgery which is very similar to knee and hip replacement surgeries, can be combined with another surgical intervention on nerves, muscles, tendons, or ligaments. A temporary splint can be put on the elbow for a few days to keep it stable while it heals. After a few days of hospitalization, the patient will be discharged with the necessary treatment prescriptions (bandage, analgesics, physiotherapy).
After an elbow replacement surgery, having a planned rehabilitation (from a few months to a year) with the help of professional specialists is vital. The patient needs to have several physiotherapy sessions and also to learn the exercises themselves. These exercises will help the elbow to regain strength and better mobility. After the full recovery, the patient will regain the desired elbow mobility. The success rate of elbow replacement surgery is over 87% after five years. It should be noted that even with this surgery the patient might not be able to do rigorous recreational sports or heavy lifting. With good care, the new elbow should serve the patient well for many years to come. However, after many years, the prosthesis can either be mobilized or wear out, which may justify new intervention.