What is Elbow Replacement Surgery all about?
An elbow replacement surgery is a surgical procedure through which the doctor will try to restore the normal functioning and movement to the elbow, mostly, when it is affected by severe arthritis or suffers damage from a traumatic injury that leaves it with diminished functioning. The doctor will remove the damaged and painful elbow joint and replace it with a prosthetic implant which helps to regain function and restore function.
When do I need an Elbow Replacement Surgery?
The main reasons for opting elbow replacement surgery are severe pain and major injuries to the arm or the elbow that affect normal functioning in the elbow joint.
Here are a few reasons when the doctor would suggest a complete elbow replacement surgery to you:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – This medical disorder causes the synovial membrane (which surrounds the elbow joint) to swell and thicken. As a result the cartilage in the joint faces the risk of getting decreases and causes pain and stiffness in the elbow joint.
- Osteoarthritis – This is a degenerative bone disease which occurs mostly in the old age. In this the cartilage covering the parts of the elbow joint begins to wear away and gets decreased with time which can cause the bones to rub against each other and eventually results in pain and stiffness in the elbow joint.
- Post-traumatic arthritis – This kind of arthritis is caused due to a major elbow injury. This is caused when the injury affects the bones in the elbow joint (fractures), tears the supporting ligaments and tendons and cause damage to the cushioning cartilage of the elbow joint.
- Major fractures – Elbow replacement is also required when the bones comprising the elbow joints suffer a severe fracture and cannot be repaired conventionally.
- Unstable elbow joint – A traumatic injury to the elbow joint and its surrounding area can often cause the supporting ligaments to get damaged and weaken them. This causes instability in the elbow joint which requires an elbow replacement surgery to strengthen the elbow joint.
What happens in an Elbow Replacement Surgery?
The surgery begins with a complete review of your medical history and a full body checkup to ensure that you are ready to undergo the surgical procedure. The doctor will put you under general anesthesia so that you do not feel any pain or discomfort.
The surgery begins with the surgeon making a small (3 inch) incision at the back of the elbow. After this the surgeon will shift aside any underlying muscle group or tendons to get a clear view of the elbow joint bones. In case of injured tendons or broken bones the surgeons will gently remove these without disturbing the healthy components. The surgeon then prepares the humerus (upper arm bone) for attaching the artificial implant in place of the joint part of the arm bone. The same procedure is done on the ulna (forearm bone).
The implant stems are fixed to the humerus and the ulna bones and held together with surgical cement. These implants are fixed together with a hinge pin. This completes the replacement procedure and the surgeon will close the incision after this.
At times, the surgeon would be required to place a small tube coming out from the operated elbow joint to drain any excess fluid which might get collected in the elbow.
The artificial implants are sterile alloys made from either titanium or chrome-cobalt which have a lubricating layer of polyethylene. The surgical cement used in the procedure is made of polymethyl-methacrylate (a type of acrylic plastic).
What to expect after Elbow Replacement Surgery?
The doctor will prescribe certain antibiotics to reduce the risks of infection and advise a hospital stay of 2-4 days post surgery.
If the operated area gets intensely painful the doctor will also prescribe suitable painkillers to ease the pain.
Are there any risks or complications with Elbow Replacement Surgery?
As with any type of major surgery there are chances of certain risks and complications that can possibly arise from an elbow replacement surgery. These are:
Shoulder replacement surgery
- Infection – infection can likely occur in or around the operated area. Doctor will prescribe suitable antibiotics to keep the risk of infection to a minimum.
- Implant problems – The implant carries a risk of being worn down with time or the components may get loosened for a number of reasons. This is remedied swiftly with a revision procedure.
- Nerve injury – There is a minute risk for the nerves surrounding the elbow joint to get damaged. These are not a big issue as nerve injuries most often heal by themselves in a short while.
is highly recommended for elderly aged patients suffering from severe form of arthritis. This surgical procedure works wonders to alleviate the pain and restore the movement and function of the affected elbow. In case of a major and traumatic elbow injury the elbow replacement surgery helps to relieve pain and return the use of the injured elbow joint in a shorter time period.[free_quotes_and_consultation]