Medial Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction of the Elbow in Throwing Athletes
Medial ulnar collateral ligament insufficiency of the elbow can be a devastating injury in the throwing athlete. Reconstruction of the medial ulnar collateral ligament was initially described by Jobe and associates; good clinical results have been described after this procedure. The authors’ experience with this technique raised several concerns, and thus the “docking” procedure was developed as an alternative method for medial ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction of the elbow. The early results of the docking technique were good. The authors wish to investigate the intermediate-term clinical results of this method in a large group of athletes.
The docking technique can return overhead-throwing athletes to sport with minimal perioperative morbidity.
Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
During a 3-year period, 100 consecutive overhead-throwing athletes were treated with surgical reconstruction using the docking technique. The inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) a history of medial elbow pain that prevented throwing, (2) a preoperative standard noncontrast magnetic resonance image demonstrating medial ulnar collateral ligament injury, (3) clinically apparent medial ulnar collateral ligament insufficiency, and (4) an overhead-throwing athlete. At the time of surgery, all patients underwent routine arthroscopic assessment. The ulnar nerve was transposed in 22 cases. The mean follow-up was 36 months (range, 24-60 months).
Ninety of 100 (90%) patients were able to compete at the same or a higher level than before medial ulnar collateral ligament injury for more than 12 months as noted at the follow-up interval; 7 patients were able to compete at a lower level. Only 3 patients suffered postoperative complications.
The docking technique reliably returns athletes to competitive throwing with a low perioperative morbidity.
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