Traditionally, inflammatory arthritis was the most common reason for elbow replacement surgery. In recent years, however, medication-based treatments for rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis have improved considerably, in many cases preventing the severe joint damage that typically requires surgical treatment.
Nevertheless, elbow replacement surgery is on the rise. Today, the procedure is most commonly performed to address distal humerus fractures in older adults, who are susceptible to these types of injuries for two main reasons. First, the risk of falling increases with age due to a progressive loss of balance, muscle mass, and strength. Second, the risk of fractures also increases with age due to an overall loss of bone density, which is often exacerbated by osteoporosis.
A Surgeon’s Expertise Is Paramount
Due to the complex anatomy of the elbow—an intricate hinge joint with many moving parts—elbow replacement surgery is best performed by an experienced orthopedic surgeon who specializes in elbow procedures. Christopher C. Schmidt, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and elbow specialist who practices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Schmidt receives many complex case referrals from his peers and is widely considered one of the best elbow surgeons in the United States.
Elbow replacement is a highly customized procedure. For instance, if the damage is limited to the top portion of the radius or ulna, Dr. Schmidt may remove the end of the damaged bone and replace it with an artificial head. Alternatively, if the entire joint is damaged, Dr. Schmidt may remove the ends of both the humerus and ulna and insert a prosthetic device.
Types of Elbow Implants
Elbow implants have improved considerably in recent years. The two main types are:
Your Premiere Choice for Shoulder & Elbow Surgery