Evolution of the treatment options of ulnar collateral ligament injuries of the elbow

Authors: P Langer, P Fadale, and M Hulstyn

References: Br J Sports Med 2006; 40: 499-506

Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) insufficiency is potentially a career threatening, or even a career ending, injury, particularly in overhead throwing athletes. The evolution of treating modalities provides afflicted athletes with the opportunity to avoid premature retirement. There have been several clinical and basic science research efforts which have investigated the pathophysiology of UCL disruption, the biomechanics specific to overhead throwing, and the various types of treatment modalities. UCL reconstruction is currently the most commonly performed surgical treatment option. An in depth analysis of the present treatment options, both non-operative and operative, as well as their respective results and biomechanical evaluation, is lacking in the literature to date. This article provides a comprehensive current review and comparative analysis of these modalities. Over the last 30 years there has been an evolution of the original UCL reconstruction. Yet, despite the variability in modifications, such as the docking technique, interference screw fixation, and use of suture anchors, the unifying concepts of UCL reconstruction are that decreased dissection of the flexor-pronator mass and decreased handling of the ulnar nerve leads to improved outcomes.

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