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Hemiarthroplasty of the Elbow (Partial Elbow Replacement) Fact Sheet

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What is a hemiarthroplasty?

A hemiarthroplasty is a partial replacement of a joint. During a total arthroplasty, the entire joint is replaced with an artificial material or prosthesis, such as metal. A hemiarthroplasty replaces part of the joint and preserves the rest of the bone.

Joint replacements are common surgeries for people suffering from osteoarthritis, a disabling disease that causes stiffness and severe pain in the joints. Osteoarthritis can occur from natural degeneration of the joint cartilage brought on by age, or it can occur because of previous traumas, including dislocations and fractures. Joint replacement surgeries aim to eliminate pain and return the patient to as much functionality as possible.

The benefits of hemiarthroplasty

Hemiarthroplasty is considered a better option than total arthroplasty because the surgery preserves more of the bone and joint. Under normal use, a hemiarthroplasty is likely to last much longer than an arthroplasty. In addition, patients who receive joint replacements often need to have further replacement surgeries years later as their implant wears down. Redoing an arthroplasty usually requires more complex surgery than a hemiarthroplasty.

Recovery from a hemiarthroplasty can sometimes take longer than an arthroplasty because the surgery’s success relies on the healing of the repaired ligaments. Patients will usually return to normal activity about three months after surgery.

Who is a candidate for a hemiarthroplasty of the elbow?

Those who are likely to receive the most benefit from a hemiarthroplasty of the elbow include:

  • Patients 70 years of age or younger.
  • Patients who are physically active.
  • Patients with fractures that are too fragmented to be able to consistently fix them.
  • Patients with fractures in some parts of the elbow that are thin shells of bone and cannot hold screws for fixation.
  • Patients with fractures that were fixed, but the plates and screws have not been able to stabilize the fractures.
  • Patients whose cartilage is well preserved on the non-diseased side of the joint.

Many patients experience dramatic improvement in pain and function after a hemiarthroplasty. Patients who have the most success after this surgery are those who:

  • Follow the postoperative instructions given by their surgeon.
  • Follow their physical therapy and rehabilitation plan.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid excessive use of painkillers including aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac, Cox-2 inhibitors and opioids.

Hemiarthroplasty at UK HealthCare

UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine now specializes in hemiarthroplasty of the elbow. To make an appointment for consultation, call 1-800-333-8874. 

For more information

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 

UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine 

Page last updated: 10/17/2013 12:45:44 PM