Medial collateral ligament complex of the elbow

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 16 Sep 2020

The medial (ulnar) collateral ligament (MCL/UCL) complex is a major stabilizer of the elbow joint and resists valgus stress.

The MCL complex runs from the humerus to the ulna and is composed of three parts 1,3,4,7:

  1. anterior bundle
    • inferior medial epicondyle to the sublime tubercle of the medial coronoid process
    • cord-like
  2. posterior bundle
    • medial epicondyle to the medial olecranon
    • thickening of the joint capsule
  3. transverse (or oblique) bundle (Cooper's ligament) 
    • runs between the inferior fibers of the anterior and posterior bundles (i.e. medial olecranon to medial coronoid process)
    • almost no role in elbow stabilization
  • accessory ligament (a.k.a. extra band): posterior joint capsule to the transverse ligament (25%) 1
  • the anterior band is the only part of the MCL complex which is delineated as a separate structure and is best seen on coronal images

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: medial elbow ligaments (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
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