Is Elbow Replacement Finally a Reality?

Hip and knee replacement surgery is not only fairly routine, but very common. Almost everyone has at least one grandparent, aunt or neighbor who has had at least one of these joints replaced.

But elbow replacement surgery is another story. Surgery to replace the elbow joint has always been known to come with a high rate of complications, a frequent need for revision, and often outright failure.

This is because “unlinked” elbow replacements often result in dislocation. And in while “linked” elbow replacements, the artificial hinges and plastic cushions tend to wear out rapidly due to the high degree of use and strain placed on the elbow.

So, except in the direst of situation, orthopedic surgeons simply don’t attempt elbow replacements. And, sadly patients with no other option must continue to suffer with a damaged and painful elbow. However this may soon be changing.

Good News in Elbow Replacement Surgery

After decades of research and surgical advancements, it appears that the Mayo Clinic has finally pioneered a type of elbow replacement surgery that may be successful. Although it is still in its infancy, this new type of elbow replacement seems capable of offering a stable and durable treatment.

This revolutionary development was actual the fruition of a 20-year project by the Mayo Clinic to develop both a prosthetic elbow, and an accompanying surgical technique, that would approach the level of quality and longevity of hip and knee replacement.

“We are on the verge of being able to offer patients a joint replacement of the elbow that we can expect to remain stable and not wear out prematurely. It’s a game-changer,” said Shawn W. O’Driscoll, M.D., Ph.D., a consultant in Orthopedic Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

It should be no surprise that the Mayo Clinic was the innovator behind elbow replacement, given their distinguished history of groundbreaking orthopedics research. Mayo Clinic has long been at the forefront of prosthetic joint design.

Who Will Benefits from Elbow Replacement

Ac nonfunctional elbow is one of the most disabling medical conditions, as it prevents the patient from stabilizing the hand or moving it effectively through space. A disabled elbow is also extremely painful.

Unlike hip and knee replacement surgery, elbow replacement is not typically reserved for the elderly. Severe, acute elbow injuries are typically the result of car accidents, sports injuries, farming accidents, or injury due to manual labor or machinery.

Members of the military often suffer catastrophic elbow injuries, as well. Dr. O’Driscoll noted that “At Mayo Clinic we are also seeing a number of armed-services personnel who were injured by a rocket-propelled grenade or an improvised explosive device.”

The Mayo Clinic Prosthetic Elbow Design

The new replacement elbow designed by the Mayo Clinic has a thicker polyethylene lining and a much broader surface area than other prosthetic joints. This means that the daily, intense pressures placed on the joint are distributed much more evenly, to withstand wear and tear without wearing out.

The prosthetic elbow design was created with advanced computer optimization so that in any position throughout the entire normal human range of motion — as well as when the elbow is accidentally torqued out of place — the pressure is not concentrated enough to wear out the plastic.

Elbow Replacement | Detroit Area

In the past, people with serious injuries to the elbow were often advised that nothing can be done. But, thanks to the trailblazing research by the Mayo Clinic, elbow replacement may become a routine procedure – like knee and hip replacement – in the near future.

If you are suffering from any type of elbow pain, contact Detroit area board certified hand and arm specialist, Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most medical conditions, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to ease the pain, and stop a condition from worsening.

While elbow replacement is reserved for the most serious and catastrophic cases of elbow injury, there are many less invasive treatments, including medications, corticosteroids, and physical therapy to treat elbow pain and disfunction.

Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your condition.

Elbow Doctor | Detroit Area: 248.335.2638