Elbow is a hinge joint allowing dynamic range of motion which helps perform complex activities. Elbow replacement surgery though quite uncommon has good to excellent results in patients who are ideal candidates for it. The procedure involves replacing the bony hinge with a mettalic component to perform normal activities.
The main indications of undergoing an Elbow replacement are:
- Post-traumatic complex elbow fractures
- Severe rhematoid arthritis
- Severe post-injury arthritis
- Painful restriction of motion due to Osteo-arthritis
- Elbow instability
- Oncological process involving the elbow joint
Patients should be given the option only in cases where preserving the biological joint is not possible and patient presents with severe symptoms relating to painful restriction.
The surgical procedure is not free from risks and may have the following complications:
- Wound related complications
- Implant loosening
- Nerve Injury
The Implant wear out rates for elbow have been reported much higher with a shorter life as compared to the knee and the hip as it involves higher range of motion. The Pre-procedural investigations remain similar to that of knee and hip replacement:
- Complete medical examination
- Complete hematological(blood) and urine examination
- Radiological examination of both knees
- A pre- anaesthesia checkup for all associated comorbidities
- Control of metabolic derangements with medical treatment
- Home and Social planning and councelling
There always exists a difference between the expectations and result with most patients meeting the two by end of 6-8 weeks if there is no associated complication. The patients may have a restricted range of motion with flexion not reaching more than a 120 degree.
Post-surgical precautions include regular physiotherapy as advised, good nutritional status and protecting wound from any contamination.
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