Allograft Salvage of Failed Total Elbow Arthroplasty: A Report of Two Cases

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Infection after total elbow arthroplasty (TEA) is a devastating complication. Current management options include (1) salvage of the implant with debridement and parenteral antibiotics, (2) resection arthroplasty, and (3) arthrodesis. Most infected TEA patients ultimately require resection arthroplasty. Inadequate bone may preclude both revision TEA and successful resection arthroplasty. It is in these cases that the patient may benefit from allograft reconstruction. Two patients with painful flail elbows secondary to previous resection arthroplasties were treated successfully with cadaver allograft augmented with in situ autograft. Use of the allograft resulted in improvement from failure to excellent in this patient with posttraumatic arthrosis at five years after operation and from failure to good in a rheumatoid patient at two years after operation. Autograft-augmented allografts in the resected failed-TEA patient are a valuable and bone-preserving option. This may be especially useful in patients with significant bone loss or young patients with posttraumatic arthrosis, for whom arthrodesis may be the only other surgical option. The method should not preclude further revision TEA.

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