We describe the intermediate results of lateral ligamentous repair or reconstruction for posterolateral rotatory instability of the elbow. Between 1986 and 1999, we performed 12 direct repairs and 33 ligament reconstructions with a tendon autograft. One patient was lost to follow-up and 44 were retrospectively studied at a mean of six years (2 to 15). Surgery restored stability in all except five patients. In two the elbow became stable after a second procedure. The mean post-operative Mayo elbow performance score was 85 points (60 to 100). The result was classified as excellent in 19, good in 13, fair in seven and poor in five patients. Thirty-eight patients (86%) were subjectively satisfied with the outcome of the operation. Better results were obtained in patients with a post-traumatic aetiology (p = 0.03), those with subjective symptoms of instability at presentation (p = 0.006) and those who had an augmented reconstruction using a tendon graft (p = 0.04). Reconstruction using a tendon graft seems to provide better results than ligament repair and the results do not seem to deteriorate with time. The outcome of this procedure is less predictable in patients with no subjective instability.

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