Tommy John Surgery, What Is It?

By Arlene Borenstein
|  Friday, Aug 27, 2010  |  Updated 9:46 PM EDT
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Stephen Strasburg's elbow injury has thrown a monkey wrench into the Nationals' game plan this season and possibly the next. It’s a reality for fans they likely want to forget, but the rookie pitcher is undergoing a reconstructive procedure that is proven to be a success among other MLB pitchers.

What is it and how does it work? Well, meet Tommy John. It's a surgical procedure that reconstructs the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), a ligament on the inside of the elbow joint, by using a tendon from the forearm.

According to about.com:

"The tendon is used to recreate the damaged ligament and improve the stability of the elbow joint. Tommy John surgery was developed by Dr. Frank Jobe in Los Angeles … the surgery can be used to extend the career in many baseball pitchers; the success rate following surgery is about 85%."

So the odds are working in Strasburg's favor.

Additionally, his teammate Jordan Zimmerman also had Tommy John Surgery. He pitched in the majors for the first time Thursday night after about a year in rehab.

As for the fans, they are simply left with the hope that Strasburg's suddenly dimmed star will one day soon gets its shine back.

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