Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
Total elbow arthroplasty has continued to evolve over time. Elbow implants may be linked or unlinked. Unlinked implants are attractive for patients with relatively well preserved bone stock and ligaments, but many favor linked implants, since they prevent instability and allow replacement for a wider spectrum of indications. Inflammatory arthropathies such as rheumatoid arthritis represent the classic indication for elbow arthroplasty. Indications have been expanded to include posttraumatic osteoarthritis, acute distal humerus fractures, distal humerus nonunions and reconstruction after tumor resection. Elbow arthroplasty is very successful in terms of pain relief, motion and function. However, its complication rate remains higher than arthroplasty of other joints. The overall success rate is best for patients with inflammatory arthritis and elderly patients with acute distal humerus fractures, worse for patients with posttraumatic osteoarthritis. The most common complications of elbow arthroplasty include infection, loosening, wear, triceps weakness and ulnar neuropathy. When revision surgery becomes necessary, bone augmentation techniques provide a reasonable outcome.
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