Treatment of Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injuries and Superior Labral Tears by Major League Baseball Team Physicians
To determine practice patterns of Major League Baseball (MLB) team orthopaedic surgeons in addressing the controversial topics of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears, type II SLAP tears, and partial-thickness rotator cuff tear.
Seventy-four MLB team orthopaedic surgeons were surveyed via an online survey system. A 14-question survey was used to assess surgeon experience, technique, and graft choice for UCL reconstruction (UCLR), treatment of type II SLAP tears, and other common pathologic conditions.
Thirty team orthopaedic surgeons (41%) responded (mean experience as team physicians: 9.37 ± 6.33 years). Seventeen (56.7%) surgeons use the docking technique for UCLR whereas 20% use the modified Jobe technique. Nineteen (63.3%) use palmaris longus autograft in UCLR. Overall, 28 (93.3%) do not routinely perform elbow arthroscopy or perform an obligatory transposition of the ulnar nerve in patients without preoperative ulnar nerve symptoms. Twenty-eight (93.3%) would repair a type II SLAP tear, whereas only 1 (3.3%) would debride the tear. No surgeon would perform a concomitant biceps tenodesis, either open or arthroscopic.
Most MLB team orthopaedic surgeons perform a UCLR using the docking technique with a palmaris longus autograft without concomitant elbow arthroscopy or obligatory transposition of the ulnar nerve. The overwhelming majority of these surgeons would also treat an operative type II SLAP tear with a SLAP repair.
The number of UCLRs and SLAP repairs performed on MLB pitchers has significantly increased over the past 10 years. To properly treat these conditions in elite, college, and recreational athletes, it is important to understand how the surgeons who take care of the most elite-level athletes treat them, and how they are able to reproducibly attain excellent outcomes. This study shows how these common shoulder and elbow injuries are treated by those surgeons who care for the most elite overhead-throwing athletes in the world.