Acromioclavicular joint instability: anatomy, biomechanics and evaluation

Maristella Francesca Saccomanno, Carmine De Ieso, Giuseppe Milano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Acromioclavicular (AC) joint instability is a common source of pain and disability. The injury is most commonly a result of a direct impact to the AC joint. The AC joint is surrounded by a capsule and has an intra-articular synovium and an articular cartilage interface. An articular disc is usually present in the joint, but this varies in size and shape. The AC joint capsule is quite thin, but has considerable ligamentous support; there are four AC ligaments: superior, inferior, anterior and posterior. The coracoclavicular (CC) ligament complex consists of the conoid and trapezoid ligaments. They insert on the posteromedial and anterolateral region of the undersurface of the distal clavicle, respectively. The coracoid origin of the trapezoid covers the posterior half of the coracoid dorsum; the conoid origin is more posterior on the base of the coracoid. Several biomechanical studies showed that horizontal stability of the AC joint is mediated by the AC ligaments while vertical stability is mediated by the CC ligaments. The radiographic classification of AC joint injuries described by Rockwood includes six types: in type I injuries the AC ligaments are sprained, but the joint is intact; in type II injuries, the AC ligaments are torn, but the CC ligaments are intact; in type III injuries both the AC and the CC ligaments are torn; type IV injuries are characterized by complete dislocation with posterior displacement of the distal clavicle into or through the fascia of the trapezius; type V injuries are characterized by a greater degree of soft tissue damage; type VI injuries are inferior AC joint dislocations into a subacromial or subcoracoid position. The diagnosis of AC joint instability can be based on historical data, physical examination and imaging studies. The cross body adduction stress test has the greatest sensitivity, followed by the AC resisted extension test and the O'Brien test. Proper radiographic evaluation of the AC joint is necessary. The Zanca view is the most accurate view for examining the AC joint. The axial view of the shoulder is important in differentiating a type III AC joint injury from a type IV injury
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalJoints
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Acromioclavicular joint
  • biomechanics
  • clinical evaluation
  • instability

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