Elbow replacement

Indications for operation

Elbow joint arthritis causing pain which has not responded to conservative treatment

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General Anaesthetic with an regional block (You will be fully asleep and a local anaesthetic injection into the side of the neck will numb the nerves to the elbow for post-operative pain relief)

Operation type



A 12 cm incision will be made over the back of the elbow


The triceps muscle (extends the elbow) will be cut and moved to one side. The end of the humerus (arm bone) will be shaped using a saw to receive the implant. The ulna (the bone which forms the tip of the elbow) will also be prepared to receive a new surface. The radial head will be excised.

The new elbow joint will be inserted and fixed into place using a special cement.

The tissues will be sewn back to their original positions.

A small vacuum drain may be inserted into the joint to allow any blood which collects after the operation to be removed.

The Biomet Discovery elbow replacement is illustrated below

The Biomet Discovery elbow replacement

X-Rays showing elbow arthrits and the appearance after elbow replacment

Elbow arthritis x-ray Elbow arthritis
Elbow arthritis
Elbow x-ray after replacement
Elbow Replacement Postop

Wound Closure

A single long dissolving stitch under the skin and paper stitches over the top will be used to close the wound.


Elastoplast dressings will be placed over the top of the paper stitches and an adhesive bandage over the top of this. A plaster cast may be used for the first few days to keep the elbow straight.

Immediate aftercare

You will wake up with a sling on the arm and your arm may feel numb for the rest of the day. There will be an IV line (a drip) in your other arm. A vacuum drain may be connected to your operated elbow.

You will need to remain in hospital until the drain is removed and you are comfortable.

A physiotherapist will see you and you will be given instructions on what to do next.

Further instructions for Elbow Relacement rehabilitation