Early and delayed acromioclavicular joint reconstruction provide equivalent outcomes

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2021 Mar;30(3):635-640. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2020.06.026. Epub 2020 Jul 7.


Background: Some comparative studies have reported improved outcomes for early compared with delayed reconstruction for high-grade acromioclavicular (AC) joint dislocations. However, most are based on older techniques and did not specifically involve reconstruction of both the coracoclavicular (CC) and AC joint ligaments. The purpose of this study was to compare functional outcomes of early vs. delayed surgical intervention of AC joint dislocations managed with combined CC and AC ligament reconstruction.

Methods: A retrospective comparative study was performed of 53 patients who underwent early (<2 weeks after injury) or delayed (≥2 weeks after injury) open stabilization for AC joint dislocation. All patients were managed with the same surgical technique of combined CC reconstruction and stabilization of the AC joint, except for the addition of a gracilis allograft for biologic CC reconstruction in delayed intervention. Outcome was determined at a minimum follow-up of 12 months, using the Acromioclavicular Joint Instability (ACJI) score, Taft score, Subjective Shoulder Value (SSV), visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, and overall satisfaction (0-10). Multivariable regression analyses were performed to test associations of ACJI and Taft scores with 5 independent variables (early vs. delayed surgery, age, sex, manual worker, and Rockwood type).

Results: The cohort comprised 47 men (89%) and 6 women (11%) aged 40.1 ± 11.2 years (range, 22-63 years). The early group (n = 31) underwent surgery 1.1 ± 0.5 weeks after injury, whereas the delayed group (n = 22) underwent surgery 84.3 ± 99.1 weeks after injury. There were no significant differences in ACJI scores (87 ± 14 vs. 89 ± 14, P = .267), Taft scores (10.1 ± 1.3 vs. 10.7 ± 1.3, P = .084), pain on VAS (0.3 ± 0.7 vs. 0.6 ± 1.1, P = .541), SSV (95 ± 7 vs. 93 ± 9, P = .427), or overall satisfaction (9.6 ± 0.9 vs. 9.4 ± 1.1, P = .491). Multivariable analyses revealed no associations between any of the independent variables and ACJI or Taft score.

Conclusions: Early and delayed surgical interventions of high-grade AC joint dislocation provide equivalent clinical scores when combined CC and AC joint fixation is used for stabilization. Rapid surgical intervention for high-grade AC joint dislocation may not be necessary, as most patients can still benefit from surgery at a later stage.

Keywords: Shoulder; acromioclavicular joint dislocation; coracoclavicular reconstruction; instability; outcome; treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Acromioclavicular Joint* / surgery
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations* / surgery
  • Ligaments, Articular / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome