The elbow is a complex joint of the upper limb formed by the articulation of the long bone of the upper arm or humerus and the two bones of the forearm, namely, radius and ulna. It is one of the important joints of the upper limb and is involved in basic movements such as flexion and extension of the upper limb and rotation of the forearm.
The elbow joint is supported by the lateral and medial ligamentous complexes. These ligaments along with the bony architecture provide stability to the elbow joint.
The elbow joint also has the attachment of the common flexor and common extensor tendons. The groups of muscles, associated with the respective tendons, assist in rotational movement of the forearm as well as the movements of the wrist and hand.
Elbow Ligament Reconstruction Procedure
Ligament reconstruction is considered in patients with ligament rupture. Your surgeon will make an incision over the elbow. Care is taken to move muscles, tendons, and nerves out of the way. The donor's tendon is harvested from either the forearm or below the knee. Your surgeon drills holes into the bones of the upper arm and forearm, around the elbow joint. The donor's tendon is inserted through the drilled holes in a pattern like that of the original ligament complex. The tendon is then attached to the bone surfaces with special sutures. The incision is closed with sutures and covered with a sterile dressing. A splint is applied to support the elbow for a few weeks. After the surgery, you may be advised for regular follow-up and a rehabilitation program for a quicker recovery.
Risk and Complications of Elbow Ligament Reconstruction
As with all surgeries, elbow ligament reconstruction surgery may be associated with certain risks and complications. The common complications of the elbow ligament and tendon repair surgeries may include infection, injury to the adjacent nerve and blood vessels, and a loss of strength or flexibility of the elbow joint.
Rehabilitation after Elbow Ligament Reconstruction
The success of the surgery depends on the postoperative rehabilitation program, which includes the use of a removable splint immediately after surgery as well as ice therapy, electrical stimulation and massage for reducing pain, swelling or muscle spasm. Isometric exercises, strengthening, and range of motion exercises may be useful for long-term rehabilitation.