Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

I'm looking into the possibility of having a total elbow joint replacement. What can you tell me about these implants? How long do they last? What kinds are there?

Answer:

Total elbow replacement (TEA) is used most often for patients over the age of 65 with moderate to severe elbow osteoarthritis (OA). These patients have tried many other forms of conservative care without success.

There are two basic types of TEAs: linked and unlinked. Unlinked means the two pieces (humeral and ulnar) are not hooked together. Unlinked implants are less likely to loosen. They rely on the surrounding soft tissues to hold them firmly in place.

If there is bone loss or soft-tissue deficiency, then maltracking or partial or complete dislocation can occur with the unlinked implants. Linked implants have some mechanical connection between the separate parts. This type of device allows more angle and rotation in the elbow.

The linked implants allow some amount of joint laxity (looseness). This feature permits the soft tissues to absorb stress on the joint. These loads would normally be translated to the implant-to-bone interface.

Studies show that linked devices last at least 10-years for most people. The unlinked system has a lower survival rate. Older adults with fewer loads and less activity are really the best candidates for either of these TEA systems. Younger, more active patients may put too much stress on the artificial joint causing fracture, loosening, or dislocation. Emilie V. Cheung, MD, et al. Primary Osteoarthritis of the Elbow: Current Treatment Options. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. February 2008. Vol. 16. No. 2. Pp. 77-87.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
All content provided by eORTHOPOD® is a registered trademark of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C.. Content is the sole property of Medical Multimedia Group, LLC and used herein by permission.

Our Specialties

Where Does It Hurt?

Our Locations

  Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on YouTube
Follow us on Twitter