Seventeen nonconstrained total elbow replacements were inserted in 12 patients. One patient died prior to the one-year follow-up examination, and two others required revision in the immediate postoperative period. The remaining 14 primary total elbow arthroplasties in 11 patients were included in this study. There were eight women and three men with an average age of 58.1 years. The diagnosis was rheumatoid arthritis in 12 patients and posttraumatic arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis each in one patient. Postoperatively, patients were immobilized in a long arm cast. The mean hospital stay was 4.3 days. At four weeks, the patients were seen for cast removal. Instructions were given for range of motion (ROM) exercises and patients were encouraged to resume normal daily activities as tolerated. No formal physical therapy was prescribed. The average follow-up period was 32 months. Preoperatively, the mean elbow motions were flexion 124 degrees, extension 34 degrees, pronation 65 degrees, and supination 44 degrees. At the last follow-up examination, ROM had improved significantly in all directions except extension (flexion 141 degrees, extension 36 degrees, pronation 77 degrees, and supination 61 degrees). There was one ulnar nerve palsy that only partially resolved. Another patient's elbow had initially subluxed due to excessive shortening of the humerus; however, he had an excellent ROM and was asymptomatic at 31 months. There were no dislocations or wound healing problems. Cast immobilization provides an effective means of promoting soft-tissue healing, permitting early discharge from the hospital and simplifying the postoperative rehabilitation while achieving satisfactory ROM without formal physical therapy.
View details for Web of Science ID A1989AJ74100018
View details for PubMedID 2752611