Definition of Tommy John surgery in US English:

Tommy John surgery


  • A surgical procedure in which a healthy tendon extracted from an arm (or sometimes a leg) is used to replace an arm's torn ligament. The healthy tendon is threaded through holes drilled into the bone above and below the elbow.

    • ‘Of 102 pitchers in the Braves ' organization, 22 have had Tommy John surgery.’
    • ‘No pitcher has ever come back successfully from a second Tommy John surgery.’
    • ‘In the early 1990s, Andrews estimates he did 50 Tommy John surgeries in a year.’
    • ‘Fryman is playing with a torn elbow ligament and needs Tommy John surgery.’
    • ‘The procedure and ensuing rehab program failed to fully restore motion in the elbow, forcing him to have Tommy John surgery.’


1970s: named after Tommy John (1943–), a US major-league pitcher who, after a debilitating injury, was able to resume his career after undergoing this surgery. The procedure was devised specifically for John by US orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974.