(Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon)

Total Elbow Replacement

What is total elbow replacement?

The elbow is a complex hinge joint which is made up of three bones:

  • The humerus (upper arm bone)
  • The ulna (forearm bone on the little finger side)
  • The radius (forearm bone on the thumb side)

Elbow replacement is an operation where the diseased elbow joint is replaced with an artificial metallic joint. This operation is similar to hip or knee joint replacement although its much less common.

What is this done?

This operation is done in cases where there is severe painful irreversible arthritis in the elbow limiting day to day activities.

Common indications are:

Is it as successful as a knee replacement?

A lot of research and countless modifications have made modern artificial elbow designs much better than initial designs. An elbow replacement is now expected to last for many years. However the longevity of the implant is dependent upon many patient factors too. Therefore success rates of elbow replacement are not as promising as a knee replacement or hip replacement. However even with this factor in mind it is sometimes the best treatment option for selected patients. Future research is promising in this field.