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Tech Hand Up Extrem Surg. 2009 Dec;13(4):199-201. doi: 10.1097/BTH.0b013e3181c3f14e.

Thumb metacarpophalangeal joint ulnar collateral ligament repair with condylar shaving.

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New York University Langone Medical Center, Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, New York, NY 10016, USA.



Injuries to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) are relatively common and are best treated in the acute setting. The acute version of this injury can often be repaired primarily but in the chronic setting the ligamentous remnants are often retracted making this method of repair difficult. We present a novel alternative approach for UCL repair after chronic injuries or difficult acute injuries.


We describe the procedure and postoperative results. A standard S-shaped incision over the dorsal ulnar aspect of the thumb is used. The adductor aponeurosis is identified and separated from the joint capsule. A proximally based and distally based rectangular flap containing the UCL remnants is elevated exposing the metacarpophalangeal joint. A burr is used to shave the condyles on the ulnar aspect of the metacarpal and proximal phalanx. The joint is stabilized with a Kirschner wire. A suture anchor is used to secure the proximally based flap. The distal flap is secured on top of this using the same sutures from the anchor. The repaired ligament is secured to the volar plate on the palmar aspect using a 4-0 Ethibond.


This surgical technique has been used extensively by the senior authors; we present a representative case. At 3 months the patient had a grip strength of 85 lbs, tripod pinch of 12 lbs, lateral pinch of 5 lbs, 2-point pinch of 6 lbs, active range of motion at metacarpophalangeal joint of 0 to 70 and passive range of motion at the metacarpophalangeal joint MP of 0 to 85.


Despite a number of options for ligament reconstruction many of the described methods of repair are relatively complex and involve derangement of local tissues. We offer a novel adjunct to current methods of UCL reconstruction in which condylar shaving makes repair much more simple and avoids the use of a tendon graft. This approach provides a shorter course for the retracted UCL remnants allowing primary repair in the chronic setting and in the difficult acute repair.

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