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JSES Reviews, Reports and Techniques


BACKGROUND: Many surgical techniques have been described for acromioclavicular (AC) joint reconstruction. Creation of bone tunnels through the clavicle or coracoid has been shown to be a risk factor for fracture. Use of an AC reconstruction technique that does not create bone tunnels may obviate this risk. This study aims to evaluate clinical outcomes of AC joint reconstruction using a tunnel-free technique compared to reconstruction using a cortical button and clavicular drill holes.

METHODS: Consecutive patients who underwent AC joint reconstruction by a single surgeon in a subspecialty referral practice were included. One group of patients received cortical button fixation (button group), in which sutures were passed around the coracoid, brought up through a drill hole in the clavicle, and tied over a cortical button. The other group of patients received tunnel-free fixation, in which a self-locking tape suture was passed in a cerclage fashion around the base of the coracoid and the clavicle and tensioned with a tensioning device (cerclage group). Both groups underwent reconstruction of the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament and AC joint capsule using tibialis anterior allograft. Patient-reported outcome scores and satisfaction were collected and compared between groups. Radiographs were reviewed to evaluate CC ligament distance and loss of reduction.

RESULTS: Twenty-two patients were included in the study (button n = 10, cerclage n = 12). Preoperative demographics and injury characteristics were not different between groups. Average radiographic follow-up was not different between groups (button: 231 days, cerclage: 105 days). Postoperative American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, visual analog scale, and Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation scores were similar between groups. Two postoperative clavicle fractures were sustained in the button group. These occurred through clavicular drill holes and were preceded by tunnel widening. No fractures occurred in the cerclage group. CC distance at initial follow-up was significantly less in the cerclage group (button: 11.2 ± 4.5 mm, cerclage: 7.0 ± 2.9 mm,

CONCLUSION: Tunnel-free AC joint reconstruction is associated with improved initial radiographic appearance and patient satisfaction compared to single cortical button fixation. Postoperative clavicle fracture and persistent cosmetic deformity drive patient dissatisfaction, which may be minimized by avoiding clavicular drill holes and using a tensioned self-locking cerclage suture to improve initial reduction.


Acromioclavicular joint, Acromioclavicular reconstruction, Complications, Tunnel-free, Cortical button, Cerclage


PMID: 37928985

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