Acromioclavicular Joint Injuries: Diagnosis and Management

Ryan Simovitch, MD, Brett Sanders, MD, Mehmet Ozbaydar, MD, Kyle Lavery, BS and Jon J. P. Warner, MD J Am Acad Orthop Surg, Vol 17, No 4, April 2009,

Acromioclavicular joint injuries represent nearly half of all athletic shoulder injuries, often resulting from a fall onto the tip of the shoulder with the arm in adduction. Stability of this joint depends on the integrity of the acromioclavicular ligaments and capsule as well as the coracoclavicular ligaments and the trapezius and deltoid muscles. Along with clinical examination for tenderness and instability, radiographic examination is critical in the evaluation of acromioclavicular joint injuries. Nonsurgical treatment is indicated for type I and II injuries; surgery is almost always recommended for type IV, V, and VI injuries. Management of type III injuries remains controversial, with nonsurgical treatment favored in most instances and reconstruction of the acromioclavicular joint reserved for symptomatic instability. Recommended techniques for stabilization in cases of acute and late symptomatic instability include screw fixation of the coracoid process to the clavicle, coracoacromial ligament transfer, and coracoclavicular ligament reconstruction. Biomechanical studies have demonstrated that anatomic acromioclavicular joint reconstruction is the most effective treatment for persistent instability.

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