Elbow

Abstract:

Elbow arthroscopy is a useful tool for managing diseases of the elbow, including valgus extension overload, when conservative treatments have failed. Arthroscopic access to the elbow in the supine-suspended position is simple and reproducible with the technique described in this report. Synovial tissue can be cleared, optimizing visualization of the anatomic structures in the elbow including the posterior ulnohumeral joint. This report describes, in detail, arthroscopy of the elbow in the supine-suspended position and basic principles for arthroscopic decompression of the posterior elbow for valgus extension overload.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) arthrography has been considered the gold standard for imaging ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries. No classification system has been described for UCL tears to help discuss and guide treatment options. We propose that an MRI-based UCL classification system would correlate with valgus laxity and help predict surgical management.

METHODS:

The MRIs from 240 patients who underwent UCL reconstruction were reviewed and classified according to a system based on severity and location of the UCL injury. Bilateral elbow valgus stress radiographs were used to compare the amount of valgus laxity associated with each grade of UCL injury. Additional data from the imaging review included intraligamentous calcifications, T-sign presence, and a newly described “vacuum sign.”

RESULTS:

The amount of valgus stress opening increased with the classification severity as follows: type I, 0.13 mm; type II, 0.20 mm; type III, 0.63 mm; and type IV, 0.76 mm.

CONCLUSION:

We propose a new classification for UCL injuries based on MRI findings that helps predict valgus laxity, improve communication, and guide treatment for UCL pathology in throwing athletes

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction is an increasingly common procedure being performed in overhead throwing athletes. Recently, postoperative imaging has revealed the presence of heterotopic ossification (HO) in symptomatic patients.

PURPOSE:

To determine the incidence of symptomatic HO after UCL reconstruction as well as the clinical outcomes after nonoperative or operative treatment of HO.

STUDY DESIGN:

Case series, Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS:

A search was performed of diagnostic codes for all UCL reconstructions at a single institution between 2002 and 2012, and the charts were then reviewed of patients who returned to clinic for symptomatic HO after UCL reconstruction. All relevant clinical information, imaging findings, and return-to-play data were obtained.

RESULTS:

Eight patients were found to have developed symptomatic HO after UCL reconstruction. Of the 8 patients, 6 had gracilis tendon autograft at their primary surgery. All 8 patients had HO on the proximal end of their graft. Two patients were treated nonoperatively, and the remainder had excision of HO performed either arthroscopically or open. Six patients were able to return to the same or higher level of competition after treatment of HO.

CONCLUSION:

Symptomatic HO after UCL reconstruction is very uncommon but may prove to be a significant complication among athletes. With appropriate treatment, the majority of patients were able to return to the same level of play. Early identification of this complication is important, as revision surgery with excision of osteophytes resulted in a return to a similar level of play in most patients.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

The number of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstructions in adolescent athletes has increased over the past 2 decades. Clinical results in this population have not been well studied.

PURPOSE/ HYPOTHESIS:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the outcomes and return to sport after UCL reconstruction in a large group of adolescent baseball players. We hypothesized that excellent clinical outcomes and high rates of return to sport would be observed in this population at a minimum 2-year follow-up.

STUDY DESIGN:

Case series, Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS:

We reviewed 140 adolescent (aged ≤19 years) baseball players who underwent UCL reconstruction with the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) technique by a single surgeon. Medical records were reviewed for patient demographics, injury characteristics, operative details, and surgical complications. Patient-reported outcomes were assessed using the Conway scale, the Andrews-Timmerman (A-T) score, the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic (KJOC) score, and a 0- to 100-point subjective scale for elbow function and satisfaction. Return to sporting activity was assessed using a custom-designed questionnaire.

RESULTS:

The mean age at the time of surgery was 18.0 years (range, 13-19 years), and the mean follow-up was 57.9 months (range, 32.4-115.4 months). Over half (60%) of patients were high school athletes. The mean duration of symptoms before surgery was 6.9 months (range, 0.5-60.0 months). Partial tears were identified in 57.9% of patients, and 41.3% of patients had preoperative ulnar nerve symptoms. Graft type included the ipsilateral palmaris in 77.1% of patients. Concomitant procedures were performed in 25% of patients. Outcomes on the Conway scale were “excellent” in 86.4% of patients. The mean A-T and KJOC scores were 97.3 ± 6.1 and 85.2 ± 14.6, respectively. Mean patient satisfaction was 94.4. Overall, 97.8% of patients reported returning to sport at a mean of 11.6 months (range, 5-24 months), and 89.9% of patients returned to sport at the same level of competition or higher. A total of 11.6% of patients went on to play professional baseball.

CONCLUSION:

UCL reconstruction with the ASMI technique is an effective surgical option in adolescents, with excellent outcome scores. At a minimum of 2-year follow-up, nearly 90% of patients returned to their preinjury level of sport.

Abstract:

Lateral ulnar collateral ligament (LUCL) reconstruction is a commonly used surgical procedure to treat posterolateral rotatory instability (PLRI) of the elbow. We report a 17-year-old right-handed pitcher with symptomatic PLRI after an injury to his LUCL during a baseball game. Having failed 8 months of conservative treatment, a LUCL reconstruction using the modified O’Driscoll technique was performed with the contralateral gracilis autograft. At 5-year follow-up, an excellent patient-reported outcome was achieved and the patient continued to play baseball at the recreational level. This type of injury is rarely reported in adolescent baseball players, and improving our knowledge of the long-term outcomes is crucial to assist clinicians in counseling patients about expectations after surgery.

Abstract:

Ulnar collateral ligament injuries continue to occur despite efforts to educate pitchers, coaches, and families at the amateur and professional levels about pitch counts, mechanics, and injury prevention. Although the data on the incidence of ulnar collateral ligament reconstructions are inconclusive, an increase in these reconstructions may mean a corresponding increase in the number of reconstruction failures and revision reconstruction surgeries. Less is known about the outcomes of revision ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction; not unexpectedly, early results are not as promising as those observed with primary reconstruction. In response, interest in revision techniques, rehabilitation, and outcomes of revision ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgeries has grown.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

The dynamic stress radiograph of the elbow was designed to help the clinician better define valgus laxity and instability in the throwing athlete. However, no large study has quantified the amount of laxity in athletes with ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries. We hypothesized that valgus stress radiographs in patients with UCL injuries will demonstrate a significantly greater amount of valgus stress opening of the dominant elbows compared with the nondominant elbow.

METHODS:

Bilateral elbow static and stress radiographs that were taken as part of our standard preoperative workup were retrospectively reviewed in 273 baseball players who had undergone UCL reconstruction. The valgus stress radiograph protocol used a Telos stress device (SE 2000) to provide 15 daN of stress in a standardized fashion.

RESULTS:

The thrower’s elbow with a UCL injury opened 0.4 mm more than the uninjured side. Those with complete tears (N = 76), determined by magnetic resonance imaging findings, opened 0.6 mm on average, which was significantly more than in those with partial tears (N = 150), which opened an average of 0.1 mm.

CONSLUSION:

Stress radiography of the dominant elbow in baseball players with UCL injuries showed it to have 0.4 mm greater opening compared with the nondominant arm. Larger average openings (0.6 mm) can be expected with full-thickness UCL tears compared with partial-thickness tears (0.1 mm). This suggests that large openings on stress radiography may not be a critical component for predicting who will require surgical reconstruction for UCL injuries but may be more useful in differentiating complete from partial tears.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

The dynamic stress radiograph of the elbow was designed to help the clinician better define valgus laxity and instability in the throwing athlete. However, no large study has quantified the amount of laxity in athletes with ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries. We hypothesized that valgus stress radiographs in patients with UCL injuries will demonstrate a significantly greater amount of valgus stress opening of the dominant elbows compared with the nondominant elbow.

METHODS:

Bilateral elbow static and stress radiographs that were taken as part of our standard preoperative workup were retrospectively reviewed in 273 baseball players who had undergone UCL reconstruction. The valgus stress radiograph protocol used a Telos stress device (SE 2000) to provide 15 daN of stress in a standardized fashion.

RESULTS:

The thrower’s elbow with a UCL injury opened 0.4 mm more than the uninjured side. Those with complete tears (N = 76), determined by magnetic resonance imaging findings, opened 0.6 mm on average, which was significantly more than in those with partial tears (N = 150), which opened an average of 0.1 mm.

CONSLUSION:

Stress radiography of the dominant elbow in baseball players with UCL injuries showed it to have 0.4 mm greater opening compared with the nondominant arm. Larger average openings (0.6 mm) can be expected with full-thickness UCL tears compared with partial-thickness tears (0.1 mm). This suggests that large openings on stress radiography may not be a critical component for predicting who will require surgical reconstruction for UCL injuries but may be more useful in differentiating complete from partial tears.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

A relatively high number of active professional baseball pitchers have a history of ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLr) on their throwing elbow. Controversy exists in the literature about whether professional baseball pitchers regain optimal performance after return from UCLr. It has been suggested that pitchers may have different biomechanics after UCLr, but this has not been previously tested.

HYPOTHESIS:

It was hypothesized that, compared with a control group without a history of UCLr, professional pitchers with a history of UCLr would have (1) significantly different throwing elbow and shoulder biomechanics; (2) a shortened stride, insufficient trunk forward tilt, and excessive shoulder horizontal adduction, characteristics associated with “holding back” or being tentative; (3) late shoulder rotation; and (4) improper shoulder abduction and trunk lateral tilt.

STUDY DESIGN:

Controlled laboratory study.

METHODS:

A total of 80 active minor league baseball pitchers (and their 8 Major League Baseball organizations) agreed to participate in this study. Participants included 40 pitchers with a history of UCLr and a matched control group of 40 pitchers with no history of elbow or shoulder surgery. Passive ranges of motion were measured for each pitcher’s elbows and shoulders, and then 23 reflective markers were attached to his body. The pitcher took as many warm-up pitches as desired and then threw 10 full-effort fastballs for data collection. Ball speed was recorded with a radar gun. The reflective markers were tracked with a 10-camera, 240-Hz automated motion analysis system. Eleven biomechanical parameters were computed for each pitch and then averaged for each participant. Demographic, range of motion, and biomechanical parameters were compared between the UCLr group and the control group by use of Student t tests (significance set at P<.05).

RESULTS:

All hypotheses were rejected, as there were no differences in pitching biomechanics between the UCLr group and the control group. There were also no differences in passive range of motion between the 2 groups.

CONSLUSION:

Compared with a control group, active professional pitchers with a history of UCLr displayed no significant differences in shoulder and elbow passive range of motion and no significant differences in elbow and shoulder biomechanics.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE:

Clinical studies have previously shown that 10% to 33% of professional pitchers do not return to their preinjury level; however, the current study showed that those pitchers who successfully return to professional baseball after UCLr pitch with biomechanics similar to that of noninjured professionals.

 

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), consisting of 3 bundles, is the primary medial restraint in the elbow. Recent research has demonstrated that ultrasound is an effective modality to evaluate the medial elbow, whereas stress radiography is standard practice in the measurement of medial elbow laxity. This study (1) compared dynamic ultrasound (USD) with stress radiography in the evaluation of UCL insufficiency and (2) further evaluated the contribution of the anterior bundle of the UCL to medial elbow stability.

METHODS:

Stress radiographs and USD were used to obtain coronal plane measurements of the medial joint space of 16 cadaveric elbows before and after USD-guided isolated transection of the anterior bundle of the UCL. Measurements were performed with and without a valgus stress applied to the elbows, and gapping of the ulnohumeral joint space was documented.

RESULTS:

Transection of the anterior bundle of the UCL resulted in 1.5 mm and 1.7 mm of additional gapping in the ulnohumeral joint as measured with stress radiographs and USD, respectively. No differences were recorded in the ulnohumeral gapping measurements between stress radiography and USD.

CONSLUSIONS:

The lack of difference between measurements reveals USD is as reliable as stress radiography in evaluating the medial ulnohumeral joint space and continuity of the UCL while eliminating radiation exposure and minimizing cost of the diagnostic examination. The increase in ulnohumeral gapping with isolated transection of the anterior bundle of the UCL demonstrates its significant contribution to medial elbow stability.