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'Tommy John' elbow reconstruction 95 percent successful with grown teen pitchers, study says
Date:3/13/2010

A new study presented today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) Specialty Day in New Orleans, (March 13), found that 95 percent of skeletally mature high school pitchers were satisfied with their "Tommy John" elbow reconstruction surgery. Almost as many, (94.7 percent) returned to competitive baseball.

"Tommy John" surgery is a procedure where a damaged elbow ligament (ulnar collateral ligament or UCL) is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. The surgery is named for Hall of Fame pitcher Tommy John, who was the first person to have the surgery in 1974. John returned to the major leagues and went on to win 164 games after the surgery. Prior to this historic surgery, a UCL injury was a career-ending injury.

"High school kids have been a grey zone for this surgery," said Michael J. Angel, MD, of Premier Orthopaedics of Westchester and Rockland. "Obviously, surgeons would avoid surgery on young patients whose growth plates had not closed. But this study can give surgeons the confidence to recommend this surgery to teenage skeletally mature athletes. It also gives the teen and their parents assurance that the surgery should go well."

In the study, 20 high school baseball pitchers between 16 18 years old had the UCL surgery, 19 out of 20 reported being satisfied with the surgery (17 were very satisfied, 2 were somewhat satisfied). Eighteen of the 19 satisfied patients (94.7 percent) reported that they returned to competitive baseball. Of the 19 players, three reported that their highest level of competition was in the minor leagues, another 13 went on to play intercollegiate baseball and three returned to high school baseball.

Overuse injuries account for nearly 50 percent of all sports injuries in middle school and high school students, according to the National Center for Sports Safety. For high school athletes whose growth plates have closed, this study shows that the "Tommy John"
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Contact: Lisa Weisenberger
lisa@aossm.org
847-292-4900
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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