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Adolescent UCL Surgery ("Tommy John Surgery")

In recent years, there has been an epidemic of elbow injuries in baseball pitchers requiring UCL surgery ("Tommy John Surgery"). For the decade 1994-2004, the total number of surgeries at Andrews Sports Medicine continued to rise. Most notably, the number and percentage of patients at the youth & high school level rise dramatically.The graph below plots the percentage growth of UCL surgeries over the years.

Year

Youth and
High School

1994 0%
1995 10%
1996 3%
1997 4%
1998 11%
1999 18%
2000 18%
2001 18%
2002 17%
2003 26%
2004 20%
2005 27%
2006 25%
2007 27%
2008 32%
2009 28%
2010 29%
2011 23%

It is impossible to speculate what part of these dramatically increased numbers are due to an epidemic of increased number of injuries versus other factors, such as improved ability to identify injuries and improved recognition of our senior author's expertise in this field. During the last few years, the percentage of UCL injuries in young pitchers seems to have stabilized. Perhaps changes in pitch count rules and awareness of overuse is helping.