Our highly trained surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital are proficient in many types of surgeries to help the patient regain mobility and strength in a damaged limb.
Due to injuries, which usually happen predominantly in sports, ligaments in the elbow might get damaged. In these cases, the patient will find that the mobility in his arm has noticeably decreased and that movement will often result in pain. In severe instances, elbow reconstruction surgery is required.
The elbow is the joint between the humerus, the radius, and the ulna. Ligaments are tissues that connect the bones and hold together a joint. Although there are several ligaments in the elbow, two of them stand out: the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and the lateral collateral ligament. They provide the most stability for this joint. Unfortunately, due to certain injuries, they can be damaged or even torn. In the latter case, the patient will feel stiffness in his elbow, shooting pain and he will be unable to normally perform certain tasks. If this is the case, surgery might be his only option for complete rehabilitation.
Elbow reconstruction surgery, or ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, is the procedure in which the torn ligament is replaced in order to regain mobility and strength in the elbow.
The patient will be put under general anesthesia so he will not feel any pain.
The surgeon will first make an incision on the side of the elbow and introduce an arthroscope to look at the overall joint and then remove the torn ligament.
After this, the doctor will harvest a piece of tendon from the patient, usually from the hamstring.
In some cases, the tendon can come from a donor. Next, the surgeon will drill holes in the ulna and the humerus so that he can safely attach the tendon to them. Using anchors, the tendon is then secured to the bones.
The doctor checks to see if the range of mobility is satisfying. If not, minor retouches will be made.
The procedure is finished after the incision is closed and stitched together.
There are a number of benefits after getting this procedure:
- The patient will regain full range of motion in his elbow
- The patient will be able to participate in activities that were enjoyed before the injury
- The patient’s elbow will fully heal and feel just like before
- The patient will stop suffering from elbow pain
In the last decades, the rapid advancement of medicine made it so that this procedure is minimally invasive, safe, and with a short recovery period. In the first 10 days after the surgery, the patient will have to wear a splint to hold his elbow in place, at a 90° angle. He will be prescribed painkillers to help ease his discomfort. After this period, the patient will have to go through physical therapy sessions in order to regain mobility, strength, and speed up the healing process. The patient will get back his full range of motion in about 6 to 8 weeks, and in about 4 months his elbow will feel just like before the injury.
This procedure doesn’t come with a lot of risks, but there are some. Like in all surgeries, there is the risk of infection. If this happens, the patient will have to take antibiotics to fight it. Bleeding at the incision site is possible, but uncommon. In rare cases, the patients suffered from nerve damage. This can lead to temporary, or in some instances even permanent, pain, numbness, weakness, and instability in the arm.