BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2018 19:394

Treatment of osteoarthritis of the elbow with open or arthroscopic debridement: a narrative review

Keshav Poonit, Xijie Zhou, Bin Zhao, Chao Sun, Chenglun Yao, Feng Zhang, Jingwei Zheng and Hede Yan


Elbow osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disabling condition because of pain and loss of motion. Open and arthroscopic debridement are the preferred treatment, however there is no consensus on which treatment modality is suited to which category of patient or stage of disease. The objective of this study was to narratively review the literature for a more comprehensive understanding of its treatment options and associated outcomes, trying to provide a better treatment plan.


The PubMed database, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar were searched, using the keywords (elbow [title/abstract] and osteoarthritis [title/abstract] and (surgery or open or arthroscop* or debridement or ulnohumeral arthroplasty) including all possible studies with a set of inclusion and exclusion criteria.


A total of 229 studies were identified. Twenty-one articles published between 1994 and 2016 satisfied the inclusion and exclusion criteria including 651 elbows in 639 patients. After comparison, mean postoperative improvement in (ROM) was 28.6° and 23.3°,Mayo elbow performance score/index(MEPS/MEPI) 31 and 26.8 and the total complication rate was 37(11.5%), and 18(5.5%) for open and arthroscopic procedure.


This narrative review could not provide an insight on which surgical procedure is superior to the other due to the poor orthopedics literature. However, from the data we obtained the open and arthroscopic debridement procedures seem to be safe and effective in the treatment of elbow OA. The optimal surgical intervention for the treatment of symptomatic elbow OA should be determined depending on patients’ conditions.

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