#treatment - Elbow

Elbow Arthroscopy

  • Elbow arthroscopy is keyhole surgery of the elbow
  • It can be used to treat a number of conditions inside the joint
  • It can be used in conjunction with physiotherapy to improve the range of movement of a stiff joint

What is it?

Elbow arthroscopy or keyhole surgery of the elbow involves the insertion of a small camera and instruments into the elbow joint through a number of small incisions (<1cm). The elbow is distended with fluid to allow the surgeon to visualise the inside of the joint and treat a variety of different conditions.

What conditions can it be used for?

Elbow arthroscopy can be used to treat a number of different conditions including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It can be used to remove loose fragments from the elbow or remove inflamed joint lining (synovitis) and can increase the range of movement of a stiff elbow joint. Cartilage damage to the joint surfaces (Osteochondritis dessicans) can also be repaired or removed.

Front of the elbow -Radial Head (Previous fracture)

Front of the elbow -Radial Head (Previous fracture)

Back of elbow - olecranon

Back of elbow – olecranon

What are the risks?

The main risks of elbow arthroscopy include damage to nerves and blood vessels. This can be reduced by careful placement of the incisions. Nerve injury is reported in approximately 4% of cases but usually resolves within the first 6 months after surgery. There is a small risk of infection, wound leakage (6%) and stiffness following surgery.

What are the results of surgery?

When used to try and increase the range of movement of a stiff elbow studies have shown that 90% of patients can get an increase in their range of movement. Results are best where the reduction in range has not been longstanding. When used to treat arthritis good or excellent results are obtained in around 85% of cases.

Front of the elbow - Establishing a lateral portal

Front of the elbow – Establishing a lateral portal

Front of the elbow - Arthroscopic debridement

Front of the elbow – Arthroscopic debridement