Background: Traumatic anterior dislocations of the sternoclavicular joint (SCJ) are rare. Although they can usually be treated by a closed reduction, the reported subsequent recurrence rate is 50%.
Purpose: To determine whether further instability after first-time traumatic anterior dislocation would be prevented by a minimally invasive open repair of the anterior SCJ capsule, augmented with internal bracing.
Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Open repair of the anterior SCJ capsule was completed on a series of patients who had sustained a first-time traumatic anterior dislocation of the SCJ. Patients with preexisting SCJ instability and recurrent dislocations were excluded. Through a transverse incision, the anterior SCJ capsule was repaired and plicated by use of sutures. The repair was then protected by use of an internal brace, bridging between the sternum and the medial end of the clavicle.
Results: Six patients (4 males, 2 females) with a mean age of 28.3 years were included. Four patients underwent surgery within 4 weeks of their dislocation, and 2 patients had ongoing symptoms of instability but had not had a further dislocation. The median follow-up was 28.2 months (range, 24-35 months). At the most recent follow-up, none of the patients had sustained further dislocation or episode of instability, and their SCJs appeared stable. The mean abbreviated Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (QuickDASH) score was 2.3 (range, 0-4.5).
Conclusion: The medium-term results of this case series suggest that after first-time dislocation, surgical repair of the anterior SCJ capsule augmented with internal bracing can prevent recurrent instability. This may be an attractive option for individuals involved in higher risk activities, as the operative management of recurrent anterior SCJ instability usually requires a figure-of-8 tendon reconstruction, which carries a significantly higher morbidity.
Keywords: instability; internal brace; stabilization; sternoclavicular joint.