Purpose: Posterolateral rotatory instability (PLRI) of the elbow occurs from an insufficient lateral collateral ligament complex (LCLC). For subacute LCLC injuries, lateral ulnar collateral ligament (LUCL) internal bracing rather than reconstruction may be a viable option. The purpose of the study was to compare the stabilizing effects of LUCL internal bracing to triceps tendon graft reconstruction in simulated PLRI.
Methods: Sixteen cadaveric elbows were assigned for either LUCL internal bracing (n = 8) or reconstruction with triceps tendon graft (n = 8). Specimen were mounted and a valgus rotational torque was applied to the ulna to test posterolateral rotatory stability. Posterolateral rotation was measured at 0°, 30°, 60°, 90° and 120° of elbow flexion. Cyclic loading was performed for 1000 cycles at 90° of elbow flexion. Three conditions were compared in each specimen: intact elbow, LUCL and radial collateral ligament (RCL) transected, and then either LUCL internal bracing or reconstruction with triceps tendon graft.
Results: Transection of the LUCL and RCL significantly increased posterolateral rotation in all degrees of elbow flexion compared to the intact condition (P < 0.05). Both LUCL internal bracing and reconstruction restored posterolateral rotatory stability to the native state between 0° and 120° of elbow flexion, with no significant difference in improvement between groups. Similarly, LUCL internal bracing and reconstruction groups showed no significant difference in posterolateral rotation compared to the intact condition during cyclic loading.
Conclusions: At time zero, both LUCL internal bracing and reconstruction with triceps tendon graft restored posterolateral rotatory stability. As such, this study supports the use of internal bracing as an adjunct to primary ligament repair in subacute PLRI.
Keywords: Internal brace; Lateral ulnar collateral ligament; Posterolateral rotatory instability; Reconstruction; Triceps tendon graft.