To systematically review the available data with regard to clinical and functional outcomes of arthroscopic and open debridement for elbow arthritis in order to determine the complication rate with transition to arthroscopic surgery.
Using PRISMA protocol, a systematic review was performed including studies reporting clinical and functional outcomes following open or arthroscopic debridement of elbow arthritis. The primary outcome measures analysed were functional outcome (Mayo Elbow Performance Score – “MEPS”), range of motion and complication rate. Data was extracted for the whole group and then compared between the techniques using ranges and forest plots.
39 level IV and 3 level III studies with 1097 elbows were eligible for inclusion. 684 elbows were treated using an open technique and 413 using an arthroscopic technique.
Mean MEPS improved significantly with comparable magnitude of improvement in both groups (arthroscopic group: range 28-34, open group: range 25-31).
Mean flexion-extension arc improved significantly in both groups (arthroscopic group: range 8-26 degrees, open group: range 13-49 degrees). The open group had a lower pre-operative flexion-extension arc (range 63-96) in comparison to the arthroscopic group (range 84-119).
The overall incidence of complications was 5.7% (range 0-19%) in the arthroscopic group and 6.1% (range 0-25%) in the open group. The most common complication type was neurological, with an incidence of 2.1% (range 0-8%) in the arthroscopic group and 1.9% (range 0-12%) in the open group. The deep infection rate was 0.7% (range 0-10%) in the open group with no reported incidence in the arthroscopic group.
This systematic review demonstrated good mid-term functional outcomes following debridement arthroplasty of the arthritic elbow. There was no increase in complications with an arthroscopic technique confirming its safety and efficacy.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.