A ligament is a fibrous tissue that connects bones together. In the elbow, there are three ligaments. The ulnar-collateral ligament runs along the inside of the joint, the lateral collateral ligament covers the outside and the annular ligament connects the top of the radius to the humerus. The wrist consists of a number of tiny bones, all connected together by ligaments.
When a ligament suffers an injury, either due to repeated use or trauma, the way the bones move together changes. This can create new injuries and other problems with the affected joint.
The procedure depends on the location of the ligament and the amount of damage to it. Wrist and elbow ligament reconstruction can consist of a single repair to reattached the tissue or require grafting from a host area to replace the damaged connection.
Obviously, any traumatic injury to the wrist or elbow may require some reconstruction. Anything from a sports accident to a fall can cause this type of damage. Not all reconstructive surgery is due to an injury, however. There are diseases that can require surgical reconstruction of connective tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis of the wrist is a condition that can lead to the rerouting of the connective tissue.
One common procedure that athletes face is UCL reconstruction. The Ulnar collateral ligament is a fan-shaped piece of tissue that stabilizes the elbow joint. The surgeon will remove a tendon from another area of the body and use it to replace a damaged UCL.