Publication Date



JSES Internatoinal


BACKGROUND: The gold standard of treatment for ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries has been reconstruction. Despite early repair studies yielding less than satisfactory results, there has been recent renewed interest in UCL repair due to improved outcomes and new technologies. Data regarding clinical use of these procedures are lacking. The purpose of this study was to define the epidemiological trends of UCL repair and reconstruction surgery from 2010 to 2019, compare demographic characteristics of patients undergoing either procedure, and determine incidence of concomitant procedures in each surgical group as well as comparing respective patient-level charges.

METHODS: A retrospective database analysis of UCL surgeries was performed through the Texas Healthcare Information Collection database, a comprehensive and publicly available statewide billing dataset. Inclusion criteria were defined using Current Procedural Terminology billing codes for elbow UCL repair and reconstruction between 2010 through 2019, excluding patients who had concomitant elbow fractures or lateral collateral ligament tears indicative of high-energy trauma. Procedural volume changes, patient demographics, and commonly performed concomitant procedures including elbow arthroscopy, ulnar nerve surgery, and platelet-rich plasma injection were compared. Total patient-level charges were compared across groups.

RESULTS: A total of 1664 patients were included, consisting of 484 UCL repairs and 1180 reconstructions. Total UCL surgeries increased eleven-fold when corrected for population growth from 2010 (N = 25) to 2019 (N = 315). In 2010, repair constituted 23% of all UCL tear surgeries and increased to 40% by the end of 2019. The annual frequency of UCL repair increased at a 5.4% faster rate than UCL reconstruction from 2010 to 2019 (

CONCLUSION: While reconstruction remains more common, the annual frequency of UCL repair is increasing at a faster rate. Since were no demographic differences aside from surgical setting, it can be inferred that patients who were previously receiving reconstruction are instead undergoing repair. This highlights the need for future studies to further identify surgical indications for the two interventions.


Ulnar collateral ligament, Elbow, Ligament reconstruction, Ligament repair, Evidence-based medicine, Surgical indications


PMID: 36820426

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Orthopedics Commons



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