The pathoanatomy of the anterior bundle of the medial ulnar collateral ligament

Rik J. Molenaars*, Michel P.J. van den Bekerom, Denise Eygendaal, Luke S. Oh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The purpose of this study was to increase our understanding of the pathoanatomy of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) by performing a descriptive analysis of the surgical inspection of the anterior bundle in patients undergoing reconstruction. Methods: A single-surgeon series of 163 patients who underwent UCL reconstruction between 2009 and 2017 was retrospectively analyzed. Descriptions of the pathoanatomy of injury were obtained from the operative reports. Magnetic resonance imaging data were reviewed to assess whether the presence and location of tissue disruptions were accurately recognized. Demographic and clinical characteristics were obtained from medical records and correlated to observed pathoanatomy. Results: Injuries to the anterior bundle were characterized by a single tissue disruption (65%), tissue disruptions at more than 1 location (23%), or injuries without distinct fiber tissue disruptions (12%). The presence and location of tissue disruptions matched magnetic resonance imaging findings in 124 of 153 patients (81%). Partial tears more frequently affected the anterior band of the anterior bundle distally as opposed to the posterior band of the anterior bundle proximally (P = .012). Patients with single tissue disruptions more frequently reported a popping sensation than patients with non-tear insufficiency (P = .030). Conclusions: This study shows the heterogeneity of anterior bundle injuries in patients undergoing UCL reconstruction. A variety of injury configurations and chronic attritional damage to the anterior bundle were observed, as well as distinct tear patterns at the distal and proximal attachment sites. Future research may elucidate the diagnostic value of a pop sign for UCL injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1497-1504
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy Study
  • anterior band
  • anterior bundle
  • Elbow
  • In Vivo and Imaging
  • medial ulnar collateral ligament
  • pathoanatomy
  • pop
  • posterior band


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