Clinical Outcomes of Ulnar Collateral Ligament Surgery in Nonthrowing Athletes

Academic Article


  • Background: Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) surgery continues to demonstrate excellent clinical outcomes and a high return-to-play (RTP) rate with a low complication rate. Recent studies have demonstrated similar clinical outcomes for baseball players who have undergone either UCL reconstruction or UCL repair. In comparison, few studies have assessed the clinical outcomes of UCL surgery for nonthrowing athletes. Purpose/Hypothesis: The primary objective of this study is to provide clinical outcomes of UCL surgery performed in nonthrowing athletes at a single institution with a minimum 2-year follow-up. Our hypothesis was that these patients would have similar clinical outcomes, complication rates, and RTP rates when compared with throwing athletes. Level of Evidence: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: From our longitudinal elbow registry, 40 nonthrowing athletes were identified who underwent UCL surgery (repair or reconstruction) between 2011 and 2019. Participant characteristics were recorded: age, sex, laterality, arm dominance, sport, level of competition, and type of surgery (UCL repair or reconstruction). Outcomes included RTP rate and average time, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) scores, and complications. Results: From the 40 patients eligible for inclusion in this study with a minimum 2-year follow-up, 37 (93%) were successfully contacted: 16 male (43%) and 21 female (57%). Mean ± standard deviation age at the time of surgery was 18.0 ± 3.7 years. From the 37 technical procedures, 28 (76%) were UCL repairs and 9 (24%) were UCL reconstructions. For these patients, 15 (41%) had partial tears, 20 (54%) had complete tears, 1 (3%) had a medial epicondyle avulsion, and 1 (3%) had an unspecified pathology. Sports included football (n = 11), gymnastics (11), cheerleading (7), wrestling (4), volleyball (2), basketball (1), and acrobatics (1). Quarterbacks were excluded from the football patients, as quarterbacks are throwing athletes. Level of competition included high school (n = 26), college (8), professional (2), and youth sports (1). The RTP rate was 93% (26/28) at a mean 7.4 months for UCL repair and 100% (9/9) at a mean 10.0 months for UCL reconstruction. Mean ASES scores were 94.4 and 98.7 for UCL repair and reconstruction, respectively. Complications were low, with 2 patients in the UCL repair group requiring ulnar nerve transposition for ulnar nerve paresthesia. Conclusion: In nonthrowing athletes, patients undergoing UCL repair and UCL reconstruction show favorable outcomes at minimum 2-year follow-up. RTP and clinical outcomes are consistent with previous studies in baseball players as well as a parallel ongoing study conducted on non–baseball throwing athletes.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rothermich MA; Pharr ZK; Mundy AC; Fleisig GS; Mussell EA; Ryan MK; Bernier HM; Ostrander B; Slowik JS; Emblom BA
  • Start Page

  • 3368
  • End Page

  • 3373
  • Volume

  • 50
  • Issue

  • 12