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Tommy John Surgery

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is one of the main stabilizing ligaments in the elbow and is involved especially with overhead activities such as throwing and pitching. When this ligament is injured it can end a professional athletes career unless surgery is performed. The Tommy John surgery is a reconstruction surgery performed to treat UCL injuries.

The Tommy John surgery is named after a famous pitcher on whom it was first performed in 1974. It is recommended when conservative treatment options fail to resolve the condition and symptoms persist for 6 -12 months. which involves replacing the torn ligament with a tendon from elsewhere in the body or from the cadaver.

The Tommy John surgery is performed in an operating room under local or general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make an incision over the medial epicondyle area. Care is taken to move muscles, tendons and nerves out of the way. The donor tendon is harvested either from your own forearm or below the knee, or from a cadaver. The most frequently used tissue is the Palmaris longus tendon in the forearm. Your surgeon drills holes into the ulna and humerus bones. The donor tendon is inserted through the drilled holes in a figure 8 pattern. The tendon is then attached to the bone surfaces with special sutures. The incision is closed with sutures and covered with sterile dressings.

A splint is applied with the elbow flexed at 90 degrees. After the surgery, you might be advised for a regular follow-up and a rehabilitation program for better and quicker recovery.