Elbow Arthroplasty

Normal and Abnormal Imaging Appearances

Thomas Learch, MD, Rasu Shrestha, MD, John Itamura, MD, Charles Brown, BS

In the 1970s and early '80s, the primary complication rate for elbow arthroplasty was rather high, and in many cases elbow arthroplasty was not recommended for joints with severe destruction. However, improvements in hardware and surgical technique within the last 20 years have resulted in clinical outcomes which are now approaching those of hip arthroplasty. In light of this, indications for elbow arthroplasty are expanding. Although elbow arthroplasty is much less frequently performed than hip and knee arthroplasty, radiologists must be aware of the normal radiographic appearance of post-operative and follow-up studies. They must also be aware of complications that occur over the course of implant use. Baseline and follow up imaging studies assist in determining the success or failure of elbow joint replacement surgery and aid in identifying common complications. These pages will demonstrate normal imaging appearances as well as imaging of common complications in these patients.

Learning objectives

  • Understand surgical technique and hardware implantation as a background for radiographic interpretation
  • Describe normal imaging features of elbow arthroplasty
  • Understand potential complications of elbow arthroplasty and their imaging features

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