Importance Tears of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the elbow occur predominantly as an overuse injury, most commonly affecting throwing athletes, particularly baseball players. UCL reconstruction (UCLR) has been described as an effective treatment modality in the short term.
Objective The purpose of this study was to systematically review the evidence in the literature to ascertain the clinical outcomes, complication and revision rates in baseball players following UCLR of the elbow at a minimum of 48 months of follow-up.
Evidence review Two independent reviewers performed a search of the literature based on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines using the EMBASE, PubMed and Scopus databases. Clinical studies were included if they reported outcomes of baseball players at a minimum of 48 months following UCLR.
Findings Our review included 8 studies including 1104 baseball players (1105 elbows) at mean 69.9 months (48–205) following UCLR. The majority of baseball players were pitchers (92.3%), with a mean age of 22.2 years (13–42). At final follow-up, the overall return to play (RTP) was 95.3%%, with 85.3% returning at pre-injury level. In addition, the mean reported Conway-Jobe score was 86.8%, the revision rate was 6.0% with postoperative neuropathy reported in 2.4% of patients. A total of 479 (43.4%) were professional baseball players, with an overall RTP rate of 97.5% and 82.3% managing to RTP at their pre-injury level. The mean number of career years following UCLR was 4.7 years (0–22).
Conclusion and relevance UCLR provides excellent patient-reported and clinical outcomes to patients at medium-term follow-up with low complication and revision rates. In addition, high rates of RTP at pre-injury level and career longevity were reported by baseball players following UCLR.
Level of evidence Level IV; Systematic Review
- sports medicine
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request.
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Contributors All of the aforementioned authors have contributed to the manuscript under all four of the following: (1) substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data for the work. (2) Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content. (3) Final approval of the version to be published. (4) Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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