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UCL Reconstruction Surgery

Medial Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery, is a procedure that is designed to repair a torn elbow ligament. This injury is typically the result of strong, repetitive overhead throwing motion of the arm or dislocation of the elbow. If you are an athlete experiencing pain in your elbow associated with movement and are not receiving relief from nonsurgical methods, it may be time to consider UCL reconstruction surgery.

At Barrington Orthopedics, our highly-trained, expert elbow specialists can perform UCL reconstruction surgery. During this procedure, a surgeon will harvest a tendon from the patient's body to replace the damaged medial ulnar collateral ligament. The surgery is intended to stabilize the elbow and eliminate pain. Our team will work alongside you throughout your surgery and provide rehabilitative advice to ensure a healthy and quick recovery.

If you’re an athlete who is struggling with elbow pain, do not allow your condition to worsen. Schedule your first consultation with the team at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists today. If you’re in an emergency situation, visit the Immediate Care Clinic at our Schaumburg, IL location.

What Is Tommy John Surgery?

If painful symptoms in the elbow are not relieved by nonsurgical methods, and the athlete desires to continue throwing, surgical treatment may be considered.

Arthroscopy. Bone spurs on the olecranon and any loose fragments of bone or cartilage within the elbow joint can be removed arthroscopically.

During arthroscopy, the surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the elbow joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and the surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.

Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, the surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery.

UCL reconstruction. Athletes who have an unstable or torn UCL, and who do not respond to nonsurgical treatment, are candidates for surgical ligament reconstruction.

Most ligament tears cannot be sutured (stitched) back together. To surgically repair the UCL and restore elbow strength and stability, the ligament must be reconstructed.

During the procedure, the doctor replaces the torn ligament with a tissue graft.

This graft acts as a scaffolding for a new ligament to grow on. In most cases of UCL injury, the ligament can be reconstructed using one of the patient’s own tendons.

This surgical procedure is referred to as “Tommy John surgery” by the general public, named after the former major league pitcher who had the first successful surgery in 1974.

Today, UCL reconstruction has become a common procedure, helping professional and college athletes continue to compete in a range of sports.