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Acromioclavicular joint excision

This is performed as a day-case operation under general anaesthetic, normally through a keyhole technique. The degenerate soft tissue within the joint is cleared and approximately 5mm of bone is resected from your collarbone's end using a hihg-speed burr. This stops the painful contact between your worn out surfaces. An arthroscopic subacromial decompression is normally performed at the same time 

The soft tissue is cleared from the end of the collar bone to expose the arthritic bare bone viewed from the lateral portal

The joint is viewed from the posterior portal. Note the  tight arthritic joint space

The distal clavicle has been resected with the burr, whilst preserving the superior joint capsule which contributes to stability of the AC joint. The space between the clavicle and the acromion has been increased.

What is my recovery after surgery?

You will go home a few hours after your surgery in a sling. Please take your prescribed painkillers for the first few days . You can discard your sling after a few days. Please begin your rehabilitation programme as soon as you are able. Take down your bulky padded dressings on day 2 after surgery, but keep your waterproof dressings on for 12 days. Showering is fine after four days with your dressings on. 

Patients vary in their symptoms after surgery, but in general you can expect to return to:

Office work after two weeks (although it may well still be sore)

Light physical work after six to ten weeks

Heavy labour or overhead sport may take 12 to 16 weeks

Driving is allowed once you are confident and competent to control a car both for routine and emergency manoeuvres. This will probably take a few weeks.

 85-90% of patients will be better by 6 months, but it may take even longer to recover fully from this surgery

When will I be followed up?

You will be seen at two weeks after your operation.  Depending on your progress, your on-going follow up will vary, but many patients can be discharged between three to six months after surgery.

What can go wrong?

Shoulder surgery is very safe, but specific risks include

AC joint instability (<5%)

Lack of benefit (<5%)

Shoulder stiffness (5%)