UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine welcomed Dr. George Paletta, MD, at the eleventh Ralph & Mary Wilson Gift Lecture, held on Thursday, May 14.
Dr. Paletta traveled from St. Louis to speak with UBMD Ortho’s physicians, residents, fellows, and other medical staff about the traditional “Tommy John” surgery and a number of related surgical techniques. As a Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Paletta’s specialty is shoulder and elbow surgery. He worked for the St. Louis Cardinals as the medical director and head team physician from 1998-2013. In addition, Dr. Paletta was an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and the acting chief of the Sports Medicine Service at the Washington University School of Medicine from 1998-2005.
Dr. Paletta’s lecture focused primarily on “Tommy John” surgery, known in medical practices as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCL), a surgical operation in which a ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. This surgery is named after LA Dodgers left-handed pitcher Tommy John, who in 1974 threw a wild pitch into the stands and injured his pitching arm. Dr. Frank Jobe performed the surgery and put John’s chances of a full recovery at 1 in 100. However, after taking the 1975 season to rehabilitate his arm, John went on to pitch for 14 more years, including three World Series.
Since 1974, “Tommy John” surgery has become a fundamental aspect of sports medicine. UCL reconstruction is most common for baseball and wrestling injuries: Out of the standard 12 MLB pitchers on a team, one will typically need “Tommy John” surgery. Dr. Paletta discussed traditional “Tommy John” Reconstruction vs. Primary Repair, as well as SLAP Repairs in the Overhead Athlete: Rehab vs. Repair vs. Tenodesis.
The following physicians at UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine routinely perform Tommy John Surgery:
- Dr. Robert Ablove
- Dr. Thomas Duquin
- Dr. Marc Fineberg
- Dr. William Wind
This Ralph & Mary Wilson Gift Lecture was the eleventh presentation given since the series began. The Ralph C. Wilson Foundation donated $1 million to UBMD Ortho in September 2011 to support research and education, particularly for the training of five orthopaedic residents and two sports medicine fellows who rotate through the department each year.