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"Docking Technique" To Repair Torn Elbow Ligament Yields Favorable Results In Adolescent Baseball Players

NEW YORK, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A study at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) found that a surgical procedure known as the "docking technique" to repair a torn elbow ligament in teenage athletes yielded favorable results. The outcomes were better than those in previously published reports on reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), also known as Tommy John surgery, in this age group and may be attributed to technique-specific factors, according to the study authors.

The paper, titled, "The Docking Technique for Elbow Ulnar Collateral Ligament Insufficiency: Two-Year Follow Up in Adolescent Athletes," will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons on March 21 in Chicago.

"Over the last decade, the incidence of ulnar collateral ligament tears has dramatically increased in the adolescent population due to widespread participation in overhead sports such as baseball," said David W. Altchek, M.D., senior author of the study and co-chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at HSS. Dr. Altchek is also medical director for the New York Mets baseball team and medical consultant for the National Basketball Association.

Dr. Altchek noted that previous reports suggest that clinical outcomes following UCL reconstruction in teenage athletes are inferior to results in higher-level adult athletes. He and his colleagues set out to determine if UCL surgery using the docking technique would result in improved outcomes in adolescent athletes.

The ulnar collateral ligament links and stabilizes bones of the upper and lower arm where they meet at the elbow. UCL injury is most common in professional and amateur athletes involved in overhead throwing sports such as baseball, softball, football, lacrosse and tennis. A UCL tear can occur suddenly or it can develop over time due to repetitive stress on the elbow.

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