The elbow joint is a hinged joint where the upper arm bone (humerus) meets the two forearm bones (ulna and radius). The main stabilizing structure of the elbow joint is the ligament along the inner aspect of the elbow (medial collateral ligament.) The unique anatomy of the elbow joint allows it to pass through a broad range of motion. During repetitive overhead and lifting sports and occupations, the elbow experiences tremendous stress. This may lead to the formation of small loose fragments of cartilage or bone (loose bodies) or elbow joint spurs.
Arthroscopic surgery of the elbow is challenging because of the joint's anatomy. The bones lie close together, and nerves and blood vessels are located very close to the joint (see illustration). Therefore, the doctor must be especially careful when inserting the arthroscopic instruments into the joint.
Patients who are scheduled for arthroscopic elbow surgery should discontinue all anti-inflammatory (Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Naprosyn, meloxicam, etc.) 7-10 days prior to surgery to decrease intra-operative bleeding. Medications that thin the blood need to be discontinued as well (aspirin, warfarin, Plavix), please consult with your primary care physician prior to stopping these medications. Many vitamins and supplements have blood thinning properties and should be stopped as well 7-10 days prior to surgery.