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Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Reconstruction

The ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL, is a stabilizing ligament that is located on the inside of the elbow. It is crucial for performing throwing motions. Trauma or repetitive use can cause tears to the UCL, causing pain and restricting elbow movement. For severe UCL tears, surgery may be required to restore complete function. Jonathan Glashow, MD, Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine has an expert team to perform ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, or Tommy John surgery, at our medical facility in NYC.

What Causes Severe UCL Tears?

Most severe UCL tears are not from a single trauma or injury but are caused by repetitive strain. Throwing athletes or others that perform repetitive bending of the elbow with force can obtain UCL tears that limit the motion of the elbow. To recover full motion of the arm and elbow and relieve pain, the UCL needs repair. The gold standard of UCL repair is Tommy John surgery, or UCL reconstruction.

What Is Tommy John Surgery?

Tommy John surgery is named after the first baseball pitcher to have UCL reconstruction and return to playing at a professional level. The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure that repairs a torn ulnar collateral ligament by replacing it with a donor tendon harvested from another region of the body. The donor tendon is attached to the humerus (upper arm bone) and the ulna (lower arm bone) to restore the connection and stabilize the elbow. Holes are drilled in each bone to connect each end of the new tendon with the appropriate orthopedic hardware.

Dr. Jonathan Glashow and our surgical team offer world-class medical care for sports injuries impacting athletes at all levels. For those suffering from a severe UCL tear or other type of elbow injury, our team offers advanced treatments for restoring function. For an injury evaluation and treatment options, contact our clinic on NYC’s Upper East Side for an appointment.

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