Background: There has been a renewed interest in ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) repair in overhead athletes because of a greater understanding of UCL injuries, an improvement in fixation technology, and the extensive rehabilitation time to return to play.
Purpose/hypothesis: To evaluate the clinical outcomes of a novel technique of UCL repair with internal brace augmentation in overhead throwers.
Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Patients undergoing a novel technique of UCL repair with internal brace augmentation were prospectively followed for a minimum of 1 year. Potential candidates for repair were selected after the failure of nonoperative treatment when imaging suggested a complete or partial avulsion of the UCL from either the sublime tubercle or medial epicondyle, without evidence of poor tissue quality of the ligament. The final decision on UCL repair or traditional reconstruction was determined intraoperatively. Demographic and operative data were collected at the time of surgery. Return to play, and Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic (KJOC) scores were collected at 1 year and then again at 2 years postoperatively.
Results: Of the 111 overhead athletes eligible for the study, 92% (102/111) of those who desired to return to the same or higher level of competition were able to do so at a mean time of 6.7 months. These patients had a mean KJOC score of 88.2 at final follow-up.
Conclusion: UCL repair with internal brace augmentation is a viable option for amateur overhead throwers with selected UCL injuries who wish to return to sport in a shorter time frame than allowed by traditional UCL reconstruction.
Keywords: Tommy John surgery; UCL repair; baseball pitcher; internal brace.