Purpose: Minor instability has been proposed as a possible aetiology of lateral elbow pain. This study presents the results of the arthroscopic plication of the radial component of the lateral collateral ligament (R-LCL) to reduce minor instability of the lateral elbow.
Methods: Twenty-seven patients with recalcitrant lateral epicondylitis who had failed conservative therapy and who had no previous trauma or overt instability, were included. R-LCL plication was performed in the presence of at least one sign of lateral ligamentous patholaxity and one intra-articular abnormal finding. Single-assessment numeric evaluation (SANE), Oxford Elbow Score (OES), quickDASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, Hand), patient satisfaction and post-operative range of motion were evaluated.
Results: SANE improved from a median of 30 [2-40] points pre-operatively to 90 [80-100] at final follow-up (p < 0.0001), and 96.3% patients obtained good or excellent subjective results. Post-operative median quickDASH was 9.1 [0-25] points and OES 42 [34-48]. Median post-operative flexion was 145°, and extension was 0°. Post-operative flexion was restrained in seven patients and extension in eight patients; 59% of patients reached full ROM at final follow-up.
Conclusions: R-LCL plication produces subjective satisfaction and positive clinical results in patients presenting with a symptomatic minor instability of the lateral elbow (SMILE) at 2-year median follow-up. A slight limitation in range of motion is a possible undesired consequence of this intervention.
Level of evidence: Retrospective case series, Level IV.
Keywords: Capsular plication; Elbow arthroscopy; Elbow instability; Lateral elbow pain; Lateral epicondylitis; Laxity.