January 16, 2017

Dr. Jeff Dugas discusses UCL Repair with MASN panel


Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN)

Jeffrey Dugas, MD, a managing partner at Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, Birmingham, Alabama, talks about a relatively new surgical procedure that cuts recovery time for injured athletes.

When the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), a regional sports network owned by two Major League Baseball franchises -- the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles -- wanted background information about a relatively new surgical procedure performed on a former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, they reached out to Dr. Dugas.

Last summer Seth Maness was the first established major-league pitcher to undergo “UCL repair with internal brace construction” to repair a ligament in his pitching elbow. The surgery was performed by St. Louis orthopedist George Paletta, MD.

Dr. Dugas first performed the procedure in August 2013, and he has done around 150 of the surgeries. Dr. Dugas does not know of one that had to be redone or led to Tommy John surgery, a more common surgical procedure that requires a longer recovery time.

“People are watching this and it’s an interesting thing for all of us. There is a lot that we need to learn from Seth, a lot that we need to learn from all of the guys (who have had it). We need the data. There are still so many hurdles to go over, but we’re excited to watch what is going to happen because of what is possible. We’re going to follow him very closely.”

The surgery begins with repairing the ligament and anchoring to the bone. The surgeon then builds a bracing system out of collagen-covered tape to help promote healing, a recent advancement. Repairing the existing ligament, rather than grafting a new one, means a faster recovery and return to pitching.

Due to the injuries he suffered from years of playing baseball, Dr. Dugas developed a passion for the health and injury prevention of youth baseball players. He continues to work with athletes to develop the field of sports-injury treatment and prevention. He maintains a special interest in throwing athletes, and much of his research concentrates in this area.