What is a total elbow arthroplasty?
Total elbow arthroplasty is a surgical procedure during which a diseased or damaged elbow is replaced with an implant. This implant then takes over the functions of the elbow.
Who is a candidate for a total elbow arthroplasty?
It is challenging to function without an elbow. Patients are limited after an elbow replacement because the design of an artificial elbow does not “replace” the original anatomy of an elbow. Ideally, elbow arthroplasties are reserved for older patients with low demand lifestyles.
What are restrictions on total elbow replacement patients?
Following a total elbow arthroplasty, patients will have a lifetime lifting limit of ten pounds. They also cannot play sports or do manual labor of any type.
What is the long-term survivorship of a total elbow arthroplasty?
Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer. The younger the patient, the more likely it is that there will be a complication or need for revision. This is also true for arthroplasties for post-traumatic arthritis, due to increased activity in younger patients. One study showed that 92% of those done for RA were still in place and functioning after ten years, while 23-45% of post-traumatic patients had complications and needed other surgery.
Total elbow arthroplasty, while very useful in decreasing pain, should be reserved for those from whom there are no other options.