What is Tommy John surgery?

Also known as:  TJS, ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, UCLR.

The ulnar collateral ligament is the ligament located inside the elbow. If the ligament becomes torn, such as with pitching or other athletic endeavors, the surgery to repair it is known as Tommy John surgery. It’s named after the baseball pitcher that the surgery was first performed on.

What happens during the procedure?

A graft of tendon is harvest from another part of the body. Then an incision is made in the elbow, and holes are drilled in the bones around the elbow in order to connect the new tendon graft. The tendon is secured in place as a replacement ligament. Sometimes the remnants of the ulnar collateral ligament are stitched to the tendon in order to reinforce it.

Is any special preparation needed?

The patient may need to avoid food, drinks and certain medications before Tommy John surgery.

What are the risk factors?

Infection, bleeding, nerve and blood vessel damage, numbness and weakness or rupture of the graft are potential risks of Tommy John surgery.

Reviewed by: Craig J Spurdle, MD

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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