Elbow arthroscopy: treatment of the thrower's elbow.
ABSTRACT The athlete's elbow has been described as one of the last frontiers in orthopaedic sports medicine. It has been considered separately from other athletic injuries because of the unique constellation of pathology that results from repetitive overhead throwing. Tremendous gains in understanding the complex interplay between the dynamic and static stabilizers of the athlete's elbow have occurred over the past decade. The desire to treat these injuries in a minimally invasive manner has driven the development of techniques and instrumentation for elbow arthroscopy, a successful and essential technique in the treatment of the thrower's elbow. Medial collateral ligament injuries, ulnar neuritis, valgus extension overload with osteophyte formation and posteromedial impingement, flexor pronator strain, medial epicondyle pathology, and osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum have all been described as consequences of the overhead throwing motion. In addition, loose body formation, bony spur formation, and capsular contracture can each be present in conjunction with these conditions or as isolated entities. Not all pathology in the thrower's elbow is amenable to arthroscopic treatment; however, the clinician must be familiar with all of these conditions to form a comprehensive differential diagnosis for an athlete with elbow pain. The surgeon treating the athlete's elbow should be comfortable with both open and arthroscopic treatments. An understanding of the anatomy and biomechanics of the thrower's elbow is essential for good patient care. The preoperative evaluation should focus on a thorough history and physical examination, as well as specific diagnostic imaging modalities.