Elbow replacement


Elbow replacement is surgery to replace the elbow joint with artificial joint parts (prosthetics).

Alternative Names

Total elbow arthroplasty; Endoprosthetic elbow replacement


The elbow joint connects two bones:

The artificial elbow joint has two stems made of high-quality metal. A metal and plastic hinge joins the stems together and allows the artificial joint to bend. Artificial joints come in different sizes to fit different size people.

You will receive general anesthesia before surgery. This means you will be asleep and pain-free during surgery. Some patient may also receive regional anesthesia. You will also be given medicine to help you relax.

Your surgeon will make an cut on the back of your arm to show your elbow joint. The damaged tissue and parts of the arm bones that make up the elbow joint are removed.

A drill is used to make a hole in the center of the two arm bones. The end of the artificial artificial elbow joint are placed into each bone. They are connected with a hinge. The tissue around the elbow is repaired.

 The wound is closed with stitches, and a bandaged is applied. Your arm may be placed in a splint to keep it stable.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Elbow replacement surgery is usually done if the elbow joint is badly damaged and you have pain or cannot use your arm. Some causes of damage are:


The risks for any anesthesia are:

The risks for any surgery are:

Additional risks of elbow replacement surgery are:

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, including drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the 2 weeks before your surgery:

On the day of your surgery:

After the Procedure

You may stay in the hospital for up to 2 or 3 days.

You may have a splint on your arm to help keep your elbow still.

Physical therapy will be needed to help you gain strength and use of your arm. It will start with gentle flexing exercises. People who have a splint usually start therapy a few weeks later than those who do not have a splint.

 Some people may start to have use of their new elbow as soon as 12 weeks after surgery. Complete recovery can take up to a year. There may be limits to how much weight you can lift. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your limitations.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Elbow replacement surgery eases pain for most people. A second elbow replacement surgery is usually not as successful as the first one.


Azar FM, Calandruccio JH. Arthroplasty of the shoulder and elbow. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 8.

Mackenzie RC, Su EP. Surgical treatment of joint disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 285.

Review Date: 8/11/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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