Study: UCL reconstruction surgery likely to put major league pitchers back on the field
Major League Baseball pitchers who undergo ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction have a strong likelihood of resuming their professional baseball careers after surgery, according to results of a recently published study.
“When compared with demographic-matched controls, patients who underwent [ulnar collateral ligament] UCL reconstruction had better results in multiple performance measures,” Brandon J. Erickson, MD, and colleagues stated in the study. “Reconstruction of the UCL allows for a predictable and successful return to the [Major League Baseball] MLB.”
The study analyzed 179 MLB pitchers who underwent UCL reconstruction. Overall, 174 (97.2%) resumed pitching in professional organized baseball and 148 (83%) returned to the MLB level. Mean time to return to MLB was 20.5 months and the average career after surgery was 3.9 years, however, 56 pitchers were still pitching at the start of the 2013 MLB season.
Pitchers had fewer losses, lower earned run average, losing percentage, hits per inning and fewer walks, hits and home runs allowed after UCL reconstruction than before surgery.
“There is a high rate of [return to pitching] RTP in professional baseball after UCL reconstruction,” Erickson and colleagues concluded. “Performance declined before surgery and improved after surgery.” -by Christian Ingram