For athletes and individuals who experience trauma or injury to the elbow by way of torn or ruptured ligaments, surgery is sometimes the only alternative to repair the damage. One procedure that Dr. Millett performs successfully on many patients is the Tommy John Surgery—also known in the medical practice as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction.
This is a procedure in which the damaged and torn ligaments in the elbow (in the medial area) are replaced with a tendon or tendons from elsewhere in the body. Most commonly, these tendons are taken from the hamstring, knee or foot of the patient.
This surgery is very popular among college and professional athletes experiencing such injuries and is usually recommended for extreme elbow MCL instability where other treatments and surgeries have failed. Baseball seems to be the most common sport associated with the procedure. The surgery is named after Tommy John, a pitcher for the LA Dodgers in the 70’s who was the first professional athlete to successfully undergo the procedure.
This surgery has an 85% success rate. Although the surgery takes roughly an hour to perform, the rehabilitation process can take up to a year. It is marked with physical therapy, pendulum exercises and a regime prescribed by Dr. Millett for a maximized healing process. Sports figures who are not in the pitching position generally take just about 6 months to heal.
Dr. Millett will perform a variety of tests including a possible MRI to identify if the Tommy John Procedure is a recommendation for the injured tendons.