Tommy John Surgery for UCL Tear

Tommy John Surgery is a procedure used to repair a torn medial ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow. This type of injury is common in baseball players or other patients with activities that require repetitive overhead throwing motions. This procedure was named after baseball pitcher, Tommy John, the first to have this surgery back in 1974.

Tommy John Surgery, or ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, involves the use of a tendon "graft" to reconstruct the UCL. After drilling holes in the bones above and below the elbow where the UCL normally attaches, the orthopedic surgeon harvests a portion of tendon from the patient’s own body taken most often from a tendon in the forearm. Approximately 15-18 cm of tendon is needed to reconstruct the UCL.

The orthopedic surgeon will loop the harvested tendon through the tunnels created and anchored the tendon to itself. At the end of the UCL reconstruction surgery, the incision is closed with sutures, bandaged, and placed in brace.

The hand and upper extremity physicians at Emory will supervise the patients progress moving the patient from a rigid brace to a hinged brace to a throwing rehabilitation program. Full recovery and return to throwing after Tommy John Surgery is typically 12-18 months.

If you have questions, or to make an appointment, call: 404-778-3350.