Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction: The Rush Experience

Orthop J Sports Med. 2016 Jan 28;4(1):2325967115626876. doi: 10.1177/2325967115626876. eCollection 2016 Jan.


Background: Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR) is a common surgery performed in professional, collegiate, and high school athletes.

Purpose: To report patient demographics, surgical techniques, and outcomes of all UCLRs performed at a single institution from 2004 to 2014.

Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: All patients who underwent UCLR from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2014, at a single institution were identified. Charts were reviewed to determine patient age, sex, date of surgery, sport played, athletic level, surgical technique, graft type, and complications. Data were collected prospectively, and patients were contacted via phone calls to obtain the return-to-sport rate, Conway-Jobe score, Andrews-Timmerman score, and Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic (KJOC) Shoulder and Elbow score. Continuous variable data were reported as weighted means, and categorical variable data were reported as frequencies with percentages.

Results: A total of 187 patients (188 elbows) underwent UCLR during the study period (92% male; mean age, 19.6 ± 4.7 years; 78.2% right elbows). There were 165 baseball players (87.8% of all patients), 155 of whom were pitchers (82.5% of all patients). Ninety-seven (51.6%) were college athletes, 68 (36.2%) high school athletes, and 7 (3.7%) professional athletes at the time of surgery. The docking technique was used in 110 (58.5%) patients while the double-docking technique was used in 78 (41.5%). An ipsilateral palmaris longus graft was used in 110 (58.5%) patients while a hamstring autograft was used in 48 (25.5%) patients. The ulnar nerve was subcutaneously transposed in 79 (42%) patients. Clinical follow-up data were available on 85 patients. Mean follow-up was 60 ± 30.8 months. Overall, 94.1% of patients were able to return to sport and had a Conway-Jobe score of good/excellent while 4.3% had a score of fair. The mean KJOC score was 90.4 ± 6.7 and mean Andrews-Timmerman score was 92.5 ± 7.1. Subsequent surgeries were performed in 5.3% of patients.

Conclusion: UCLR was performed most commonly on collegiate athletes using an ipsilateral palmaris longus graft. Overall, 94.1% of patients who underwent UCLR were able to return to sport with a mean KJOC score of 90.4 and Andrews-Timmerman Score of 92.5.

Keywords: Tommy John; baseball; elbow; injury; pitcher; surgical treatment; ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR).