by Mr Ben Gooding
What is Elbow Replacement?
Elbow replacement is an operation using an artificial joint to replace a badly damaged elbow from arthritis or injury.
The elbow is a complex joint and there are a number of different types of elbow replacement to replace parts or all of the elbow joint. For this reason, elbow replacement is a specialist operation requiring careful planning.
The main part of the elbow joint is like a hinge and total elbow joint replacements can act like a new hinge in the joint. If the ligaments around the elbow are stretched or damaged then a ‘linked’ elbow replacement may be needed where the top and bottom parts are attached together to allow movement but prevent separation. If the elbow ligaments are in good condition the replacement may be ‘un-linked’ allowing the natural elbow ligaments to keep the new joint in place.
Sometimes only part of the elbow joint may need replacing. This may be after an injury such as a bad break, or in certain types of arthritis.
In bad fractures at the elbow affecting the upper part of the joint (humerus), an elbow hemiarthroplasty can be considered. This only replaces the humerus side as seen below.