Lisa Gardiner, Sr. Communications Manager
Arthrex’s Thumb UCL InternalBrace™ Ligament Augmentation
The Injury: A thumb ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear is a common sports injury in football, baseball, hockey and basketball. The UCL ligament is located within the joint of the thumb and enables grasping and pinching. It needs to be repaired to restore stability and strength.
The Repair: Arthrex’s implant system is made of a high-strength flat suture, tensioned between two knotless suture anchors, either a DX SwiveLock® SL or Mini PushLock® anchor. With InternalBrace™ ligament augmentation, a flat tape (SutureTape) is placed over the repair and acts like an “internal seat belt”, supporting and protecting the repaired ligament from further injury. The “internal seat belt” metaphor is commonly used to described the repair construct. There is no metal wire involved in the system.
Advantages of InternalBrace™ Ligament Augmentation: Advantages include additional strength at the time of the surgery and throughout the healing period. Before InternalBrace™ ligament augmentation, surgeons would perform the repair and immobilize patients two or three times as long to allow the repair to heal and gain strength. See an animation of the thumb UCL InternalBrace™ procedure.
Return to Play: Standard return to play without InternalBrace™ augmentation for a thumb UCL injury is between 8-12 weeks. With InternalBrace™ ligament augmentation, return to play has been between 5-6 weeks or even earlier depending on the patient’s pain and on the position he/she plays.1
History: The first InternalBrace™ technique was performed on an ankle sprain in 2013. InternalBrace™ ligament augmentation has been used in other parts of the body, including the hand, since 2015.
Patients: In all the current applications throughout the body, the Arthrex InternalBrace™ augmentation system has been used in more than 200,000 patients. It is available to all patients, not just high-level athletes. InternalBrace™ ligament augmentation has been performed on Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons of the LA Angels, Chris Paul of the LA Clippers and others.
Surgeons to interview about InternalBrace™ augmentation for thumb UCL repair:
Surgeons to interview about InternalBrace™ augmentation for foot and ankle repair:
Arthrex Inc., headquartered in Naples, FL, is a global leader in orthopedic surgical device design, research, manufacturing and medical education. Arthrex develops and releases more than 2,000 new products and procedures every year to advance minimally invasive orthopedics worldwide. For more information, visit Arthrex.com and OrthoIllustrated.com.
Shin, Steven & Eck, Carola & Uquillas, Carlos. (2018). Suture Tape Augmentation of the Thumb Ulnar Collateral Ligament Repair: A Biomechanical Study. The Journal of Hand Surgery. 43. 10.1016/j.jhsa.2018.02.002.