Reasons for Elbow Replacement (Indications)
The common reason for doing an elbow replacement is pain that affects the activities of daily living. This is followed by instability of the elbow and ankylosis (fusion) of the elbow. The underlying disorders that cause the above problems are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Pre-operative Assesment before Elbow Replacement Surgery
This involves assessment for fitness, for having surgery and anaesthesia. You may have x-rays done, to asses the problem. Some blood tests, to rule out infection in some instances.
Procedure of Total Elbow Replacement.
The elbow joint is approached from the back. A skin incision is made and the tissues are carefully dissected out. A nerve called as the ulnar nerve, is identified, dissected and secured. The muscle tendon complex at the back is carefully reflected off the bone, to approach the actual joint. The joint surface is prepared and the two components, the humeral component and the ulnar component, are inserted and linked together with a coupling.
After Elbow Replacement Operation
Your arm will be covered with dressings and elevated in bed. You will be advised to mobilize as much as you can tolerate. You may have a nerve block, to numb the pain. You may be advised, not to lift heavy weights after the procedure.
The clips or sutures are usually removed in ten days time.
In the appropriate patient, the success rate has been reported to be very good (approx. 92%). But it is important for the patient to discuss the pros and cons of the procedure with the surgeon, before having it done.