Elbow Joint Replacement

  • A special instrument is used to hollow out the inside of the humerus bone to insert the humeral component of the prosthesis.
  • Once a proper fit is established, the surgeon repeats this procedure on the ulna bone to prepare it for the ulnar component of the prosthesis.
  • The humerus and ulna bones are then prepared with or without cement, depending on the surgeon’s preference.
  • The components are then inserted and put together ensuring proper movement of the hinge portion of the prosthesis.
  • With all the new components in place, the joint is tested through its range of motion.
  • The surgeon then irrigates the new joint with sterile saline.
  • The surgeon then sutures the joint capsule together, repairs the muscles and tendons and sutures the skin closed usually with a drain in place to help any blood drain from the area.
  • The elbow is then dressed and bandaged.
Post-Operative Care

After surgery, your surgeon will give you guidelines to follow depending on the type of repair performed and the surgeon’s preference.

Common Post-operative guidelines include:
  • You will probably stay in the hospital 4-5 days after the surgery.
  • Your pain will be managed with a PCA machine (patient controlled analgesia), injections, or pain pills. A PCA machine enables the patient to push a button to deliver a dose of pain medicine through their IV.
  • Your arm will be in a sling or splint with a bulky dressing
  • You may have a drain tube present to allow blood to drain from the incision. This will usually be removed after 1 or 2 days.
  • Elevating the elbow on a pillow above heart level and applying ice packs over the dressing will help reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Occupational Therapy (OT) will begin soon after surgery and continue for about 3 months to regain full range of motion of the elbow joint.
  • Sutures will usually be removed after 10-14 days.
  • Keep the incision clean and dry. You may shower once the dressings are removed unless otherwise directed by your surgeon.
  • You will be given specific instructions regarding activity and rehabilitation.
  • Eating a healthy diet and not smoking will promote healing.
Risks and Complications

Most patients suffer no complications following Elbow Joint Replacement, however, complications can occur following elbow surgery and include:

  • Infection
  • Fractures of the humerus or ulna bone
  • Dislocation of the elbow
  • Damage to nerves of blood vessels
  • Blood clots (Deep Venous Thrombosis
  • Loosening of artificial components
  • Wound irritation
  • Failure to relieve pain
Doctor's Talk