Semiconstrained total elbow replacement for the treatment of post- traumatic osteoarthrosis

Alberto G. Schneeberger, Robert Adams, Bernard F. Morrey

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165 Scopus citations


Forty-one consecutive patients were managed for post-traumatic osteoarthrosis or dysfunction of the elbow with use of a non-customized semi- constrained Coonrad-Morrey total elbow prosthesis. The average age at the time of the operation was fifty-seven years (range, thirty-two to eighty-two years). The patients were followed for an average of five years and eight months (range, two to twelve years). Radiographs were made at least two years postoperatively (average, five years and one month; range, two to twelve years) for thirty-nine of the forty-one patients. According to the Mayo elbow performance score, sixteen patients (39 per cent) had an excellent result, eighteen (44 per cent) had a good result, five (12 per cent) had a fair result, and two (5 per cent) had a poor result. Thirty-six (95 per cent) of the thirty-eight patients who had a functioning implant at the time of follow-up considered the outcome to be satisfactory. Preoperatively, thirty- seven patients (90 per cent) had moderate or severe pain; postoperatively, thirty (73 per cent) had no or only mild discomfort. Motion improved from an average arc of flexion of 40 to 118 degrees preoperatively to an average arc of flexion of 27 to 131 degrees postoperatively. All thirty-eight functioning implants rendered the elbow stable. Eleven patients (27 per cent) had a major complication. Nine of them (22 per cent of the series) needed an additional operation. There was no aseptic loosening, and most of the complications were primarily due to so-called mechanical failure. The ulnar component fractured in five patients (12 per cent), and the polyethylene bushings wore out in two (5 per cent). These complications were attributed principally to the performance of strenuous physical labor, such as lifting more than ten kilograms on a regular basis, against the advice of the surgeon; excessive preoperative deformity of the joint; or an unstable traumatic injury. Two patients (5 per cent) had an infection. Semi-constrained joint replacement of the elbow can be a reliable form of treatment, and frequently is the only viable option, for the difficult problems encountered with post-traumatic destruction of a joint. Restoration of function, relief of pain, and patient satisfaction can be achieved even when a patient is less than sixty years old if that patient has low demands and a low level of activity. However, the mechanical failures underscore the fact that this procedure is relatively contraindicated in patients who anticipate strenuous physical activity or who are not expected to comply with the postoperative protocol. This observation reflects the tendency for increased and excessive use of a previously functionless joint, after it has been rendered stable and pain-free, to lead to mechanical failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1222
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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