Study: 'Docking technique' can treat ulnar collateral ligament tears in adolescent athletes

Orthopedics Today—April 8, 2013

Adolescent patients experienced good outcomes after treated with a docking technique to repair their ulnar collateral ligament tears and researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery noted that the outcomes were better than those found in similar patients in previously published studies on ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction.

“Over the last decade, the incidence of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears has dramatically increased in the adolescent population due to widespread participation in overhead sports such as baseball,” David W. Altchek, MD, senior author and co-chief of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery, stated in a press release.

The docking technique involves splitting muscles rather than detaching and reattaching them, which also avoids the ulnar nerve and requires fewer drill holes in the humerus, reducing fracture risk, according to the release.

Altchek and colleagues investigated if UCL surgery using the docking technique would result in improved outcomes in adolescent athletes. In the study, the researchers analyzed 46 patients with a mean age of 17 years. The majority of the patients were baseball players, along with three gymnasts and three javelin throwers. Patients were evaluated for a minimum of 2 years postoperatively based on their ability to return to athletic activity.

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