Elbow replacement replaces an elbow joint that is seriously injured or diseased with an artificial joint, typically made of metal and polyurethane. During the procedure, which can be performed under general or regional anesthesia, the surgeon removes the elbow joint ends of both the humerus (upper arm bone) and the ulna (lower arm bone), as well as any damaged tissue. Channels are then drilled into the humerus and ulna, and the replacement device, containing a hinge flanked by stems, is cemented into the channels. The new joint offers stability, wider range of motion, and pain relief.
Elbow replacement often is used to treat such chronic conditions as degenerative osteoarthritis, end-stage rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis, and occasionally severe elbow fractures. It is recommended highly for patients older than 65 who have minimal physical demands.