Tommy John Surgery is the name of a procedure that repairs an injured elbow ligament. It is also known as UCL reconstruction surgery which refers to the formal name of the damaged ligament, the ulnar collateral ligament. The operation is performed by taking a tendon from another part of the body and using it to replace the injured UCL. The surgery became popular in the late 1970’s and is still a treatment option today. It is a prevalent surgery in sports, especially baseball players because repetitive throwing motions often cause the injury.

1. The Name

The Tommy John Surgery got its name from the first person to ever have the surgery. Tommy John was a winning pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1974 when he suffered a game-ending injury to his UCL. He opted to have the groundbreaking surgery that Orthopedist Dr. Jobe had invented but never performed on an athlete. Tommy John spent the 1975 season in recovery and came back in 1976 with what was considered a miraculous return. His record was 10-10, and he continued on to win 164 games post-surgery. In the Orthopedic world today, it is documented under its modern name of Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction surgery.

The Name