Surgical treatment of lateral clavicle fractures associated with complete coracoclavicular ligament disruption: Clinico-radiological outcomes of acromioclavicular joint sparing and spanning implants

Deepak N Bhatia, Richard S Page
International Journal of Shoulder Surgery 2012, 6 (4): 116-20

PURPOSE: Distal clavicle fracture associated with complete coracoclavicular ligament disruption represents an unstable injury, and osteosynthesis is recommended. This study was performed (1) to retrospectively analyse the clinico-radiological outcomes of two internal fixation techniques, and (2) to identify and analyse radiographic fracture patterns of fracture that are associated with this injury.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 15 patients underwent osteosynthesis with either (1) acromioclavicular joint-spanning implants (Group 1, Hook plate device, n = 10) or (2) joint-sparing implants (Group 2, distal radius plate, n = 5); these were reviewed at a mean period of 26.1 months (12 to 40 months). Clinical outcomes were measured using Constant Score (CS), Simple Shoulder Test (SST), and Walch ACJ score (WS). Radiographs and ultrasonography were used to assess the glenohumeral and acromioclavicular joints, and the subacromial space. Preoperative radiographs were analyzed for assessment of fracture lines to identify radiographic patterns. Statistical analysis of the data was performed to determine any significant differences between the two groups.

RESULTS: The overall clinical outcome was satisfactory (CS 80.8, SST 11.3, WS 17.6) and a high union rate (93.3%) was observed. Radiographic complications (acromioclavicular degeneration and subluxation, hook migration, abnormal ossification) did not negatively influence the final clinical outcomes. Four distinct radiographic fracture patterns were observed. A statistically significant difference ( P < 0.05) was observed in the reoperation rates between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Internal fixation of this fracture pattern is associated with a high union rate and favorable clinical outcomes with both techniques. A combination of distal radius plate and ligament reconstruction device resulted in stable fixation and significantly lower reoperation rates, and should be used when fracture geometry permits (Types 1 and 2).

DESIGN: Retrospective review of a consecutive clinical case series.

SETTING: Level 1 academic trauma service, Public Hospital.

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