Types of Elbow Surgery

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Elbow surgery is sometimes necessary to get the best outcome after an injury. We will discuss the anatomy of the elbow and the different types of elbow surgery we offer at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow. We will talk about arthroscopic surgery, ligament reconstruction—such as “Tommy John surgery,” and biceps tendon repair. We aim to provide valuable information to help you make informed decisions about your elbow health.

For personalized care and expert guidance on your elbow health, schedule an appointment with Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow today! Our offices are conveniently located in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia.

AdobeStock_451035542 1 (2) (2)

About the Elbow

Three bones meet to form the elbow joint. The upper arm bone (humerus)and two forearm bones, the ulnar (pinky finger side) and the radius (thumb side). Collateral ligaments support the elbow joint on both the inside and outside of the elbow.

Bone surfaces are covered with articular cartilage which cushions the bones during movements.

The elbow allows bending and straightening of the arm between the humerus and ulna bones. Rotation of the forearm is possible between the joining of the ulnar and radius bones.

What Are the Different Types of Elbow Surgery?

There are many different types of surgical procedures available to treat elbow injuries. While some injuries recover well with non-surgical treatments, others may require surgery from the diagnosis. We offer the following elbow surgeries at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow:

Elbow Arthroscopy

Elbow arthroscopy is a procedure in which the surgeon inserts a small camera into the elbow joint. This procedure can visualize damage within the elbow joint for diagnosis or be used as a minimally invasive surgery.

Common arthroscopic procedures include:

  • Treating tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  • Removing loose bodies, such as cartilage and bone fragments
  • Releasing scar tissue to enhance range of motion
  • Treating osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis)
  • Treating rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory arthritis)
  • Treating osteochondritis dissecans (damage to the capitellum portion of the humerus, often seen in throwers or gymnasts)
  • Treating a fractured bone

The following elbow surgeries do better with open surgery

  • Treating golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis)
  • Repairing collateral ligaments
  • Fixing specific types of fractures
  • Elbow joint surgery (arthroplasty)
  • Decompressing the ulnar nerve (funny bone nerve)

UCL Reconstruction/Tommy John Surgery

A common ligament injury that affects throwers is damage to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Some injuries may cause minor damage and inflammation and can be treated using non-surgical treatments. Some tears to the UCL will require surgical ligament reconstruction.

During UCL reconstruction, your surgeon may use a tendon graft from your body or a soft tissue allograft to replace your ligament. The tendon will provide a structure for the ligament to grow on.

UCL reconstruction is sometimes called “Tommy John surgery,” after a former major league pitcher who was the first to successfully undergo UCL reconstruction. UCL reconstruction is now a common procedure, helping many athletes return to competitive sports.

Total Elbow Arthroplasty

Arthroplasty is the medical term for joint replacement. Total elbow replacement surgery is performed when the elbow joint is damaged by arthritis or injury.

During elbow joint replacement surgery, the damaged ends of the humerus and ulna are replaced with an artificial joint. The artificial joint is a hinge made of metal and plastic. The hinge has two metal stems that fit inside the hollow part of the bone.

Biceps Tendon Repair

Surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon at the elbow is almost always necessary if you want to return to full strength and function. The surgery should be done within the first 2 -4 weeks; otherwise, the biceps can scar and shorten, and a return to full function may not be possible.

There are two methods of reattaching the biceps tendon. A common procedure involves reattaching the tendon to the bone with stitches that pass through holes drilled through the radius bone. Another method is to attach the tendon using suture anchors or buttons.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Our range of surgical options for elbow conditions can help relieve pain and start you on your journey to recovery. Following surgery, patients often benefit from rehabilitation through physical therapy, which is crucial in restoring strength and mobility to the elbow joint post-operation.

Whether you’re recovering from an elbow injury or considering surgical intervention, our team at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow is dedicated to providing comprehensive care tailored to your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and begin your journey towards relieving pain and restoring function. You can find our offices in Marietta and Atlanta, GA. 

Medically reviewed by

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon