Research Article|Articles in Press

Clavicular tunnel widening after acromioclavicular stabilization shows implant-dependent correlation with postoperative loss of reduction



      The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to radiographically describe, quantify and compare clavicular tunnel widening (cTW) of two different types of stabilization devices and investigate a possible correlation between cTW and loss of reduction.


      In a retrospective analysis of single-center registry data, we compared patients who were treated for an acute AC dislocation (Rockwood types III to V) with either the AC Dog Bone (DB) or low-profile AC (LP) repair systems. On 6-week and 6-month postoperative radiographs, we measured clavicle height and tunnel diameter. We calculated the button/clavicle filling (B/C) ratio to quantify how much of the clavicular tunnel height is covered by the low-profile inlet. The association between B/C ratio and the extent of cTW was defined, and we also compared cTW between treatment groups. Reduction of the AC joint was graded as either stable, partially dislocated or dislocated depending on the AC ratio. A two-sample t-test was used for comparing cTW progression between the two groups. For continuous variables between more than two groups, the Kruskal-Wallis test was used.


      Of 65 eligible patients, there were 37 and 28 included in the DB and LP groups, respectively. Overall, cTW was conically shaped with transclavicular widening noted in the DB group and cTW developing strictly inferior to the button in the LP group. For both implants, mean maximal cTW was 7.1mm and located at the inferior cortex; the B/C ratio was not associated with increased inferior cTW (r=-0.23, P=0.248). Only LP patients with complete loss of reduction had significantly increased cTW (P=0.049).


      Conical-shaped cTW is a common implant-independent phenomenon after AC stabilization using suture-button devices. It occurs only at the suture-bone interface and is less excessive for the LP implant. There is an association between increased cTW and loss of reduction specific to the LP implant only.
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