Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction of the Elbow: A Systematic Review of the Literature
Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR) is a common procedure in both professional and high-level athletes.
To determine the effect of technique and level of play with UCLR on return to sport (RTS).
When comparing different surgical techniques or preoperative level of sports participation, there is no difference in rate of RTS after UCLR.
Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.
A systematic review was registered with PROSPERO and performed following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines using 3 publicly available free databases. Therapeutic clinical outcome investigations reporting UCLR outcomes with level of evidence 1 through 4 were eligible for inclusion. All study, subject, and surgical technique demographics were analyzed and compared between continents and countries. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and 2-proportion 2-sample z-test calculators with α = .05 were used to compare RTS between level of play and technique.
Twenty studies (2019 patients/elbows; mean age, 22.13 ± 4 years; 97% male; mean follow-up, 39.9 ± 16.2 months) were included. The majority of patients were baseball players (94.5%), specifically pitchers (80%). The most common level of play was collegiate (44.6%). Palmaris longus (71.2%) and the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) technique (65.6%) were the most common graft choice and surgical technique, respectively. There was a pooled 86.2% RTS rate, and 90% of players scored excellent/good on the Conway-Jobe scale. RTS rates were higher among collegiate athletes (95.5%) than either high school (89.4%, P = .023) or professional athletes (86.4%, P < .0001). RTS rates were higher for the docking technique (97.0%, P = .001) and the ASMI technique (93.3%, P = .0034) than the Jobe technique (66.7%).
UCLR is performed most commonly in collegiate athletes. Collegiate athletes have the highest RTS rate after UCLR of all levels of competition. The docking and ASMI techniques had higher RTS rates than the Jobe technique.