The Bone & Joint Journal Vol. 102-B, No. 8

Total elbow arthroplasty in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Te-Feng A. Chou, Hsuan-Hsiao Ma, Jou-Hua Wang, Shang-Wen Tsai, Cheng-Fong Chen, Po-Kuei Wu, Wei-Ming Chen


The aims of this study were to validate the outcome of total elbow arthroplasty (TEA) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to identify factors that affect the outcome.


We searched PubMed, MEDLINE, Cochrane Reviews, and Embase from between January 2003 and March 2019. The primary aim was to determine the implant failure rate, the mode of failure, and risk factors predisposing to failure. A secondary aim was to identify the overall complication rate, associated risk factors, and clinical performance. A meta-regression analysis was completed to identify the association between each parameter with the outcome.


A total of 38 studies including 2,118 TEAs were included in the study. The mean follow-up was 80.9 months (8.2 to 156). The implant failure and complication rates were 16.1% (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.128 to 0.200) and 24.5% (95% CI 0.203 to 0.293), respectively. Aseptic loosening was the most common mode of failure (9.5%; 95% CI 0.071 to 0.124). The mean postoperative ranges of motion (ROMs) were: flexion 131.5° (124.2° to 138.8°), extension 29.3° (26.8° to 31.9°), pronation 74.0° (67.8° to 80.2°), and supination 72.5° (69.5° to 75.5°), and the mean postoperative Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS) was 89.3 (95% CI 86.9 to 91.6). The meta-regression analysis identified that younger patients and implants with an unlinked design correlated with higher failure rates. Younger patients were associated with increased complications, while female patients and an unlinked prosthesis were associated with aseptic loosening.


TEA continues to provide satisfactory results for patients with RA. However, it is associated with a substantially higher implant failure and complication rates compared with hip and knee arthroplasties. The patient’s age, sex, and whether cemented fixation and unlinked prosthesis were used can influence the outcome.


Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV.


Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(8):967–980.

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