Effect of the Posterior Bundle of the Medial Collateral Ligament on Elbow Stability Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • PURPOSE: The role of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament in stability of the elbow remains poorly defined. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of sectioning the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament on the stability of the elbow. METHODS: Varus and valgus gravity-loaded passive motion and simulated active vertical motion were performed on 11 cadaveric arms using an in vitro elbow motion simulator. Varus/valgus angle and internal/external rotation of the ulna with respect to the humerus were recorded using an electromagnetic tracking system in varus, valgus, and vertical orientations. Testing was performed on the intact elbow and after sectioning of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament. RESULTS: With active flexion in the vertical position, the varus/valgus kinematics were unchanged after sectioning of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament. However, in pronation, there was an increase in internal rotation after sectioning of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament compared with that of the intact elbow. This rotational difference was not detected with the forearm in supination. During supinated passive flexion in the varus position, sectioning of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament resulted in increased varus angulation at all flexion angles. In pronation, varus angulation and internal rotation both increased. In supination, sectioning of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament had no effect on maximum varus-valgus laxity or maximum internal rotation. However, in pronation, the maximum varus-valgus laxity increased by 3.5 degrees (30%) and maximum internal rotation increased by 1.0 degrees (29%). CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that isolated sectioning of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament causes a small increase in varus angulation and internal rotation during both passive varus and active vertical flexion. This study suggests that isolated sectioning of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament may not be completely benign and may contribute to varus and rotation instability of the elbow. In patients with insufficiency of the posterior bundle of the medial collateral ligament, appropriate rehabilitation protocols (avoiding forearm pronation and shoulder abduction) should be followed when other injuries permit.

authors

  • Pollock, J Whitcomb
  • Brownhill, Jamie
  • Ferreira, Louis M
  • McDonald, Colin
  • Johnson, James A
  • King, Graham J

publication date

  • January 2009