Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

I am the new proud owner of an elbow replacement. Everything went very well. I've been reading some materials that say sometimes the implant fails. What does this mean?

Answer:

Revision surgery to repair, remove, or replace a joint implant happens in all joint replacements. The most common problem requiring this step is implant loosening. Bone fracture, dislocation, or infection are also possible problems.

Elbows that dislocate once can usually be treated without surgery. A rehab program to strengthen the arm is important to prevent future dislocations. Chronic dislocations may require revision surgery.

Loosening of the implant can cause pain, deformity, and loss of function. Sometimes the implant collapses or sinks into the bone, a process called subsidence. Revision is needed for this problem, too. More rarely the implant breaks and must be removed and replaced.

These problems can occur early after implantation up to years later. The patient may not have any symptoms early on with some problems. It's best to keep your regular follow-up appointments and check for loosening with X-rays every couple of years.

Christopher P. Little, FRCS (TR & ORTH), et al. Outcomes of Total Elbow Arthroplasty for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Comparative Study of Three Implants. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. November 2005. Vol. 87-A. No. 11. Pp. 2439-2447.

*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.
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