Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

Our daughter had surgery to help with an AC separation that never did heal. The surgeon cut off the end of the collar bone. Was that really necessary? Won't she need that bone?

Answer:

The type of procedure you've just described is called a distal clavicle resection. Clavicle refers to the collar bone. Resection means to remove something. Distal describes which end was taken out.

In a normal, uninjured AC joint, the clavicle connects smoothly and evenly with the acromion. The acromion is the piece of bone from the shoulder blade that curves over the shoulder. When this joint is injured, it can separate creating an AC joint separation.

There are various degrees of separation labeled from one (I) to four (IV). Unless it's a type IV injury, most types are treated with conservative (nonoperative) care. Whenever surgery is done, the standard operating procedure is to remove the distal clavicle.

This step helps reduce pain and loss of function. Without good reduction (putting the clavicle back in place), the clavicle gets trapped by the muscle causing chronic pain. In some cases, removing the distal clavicle is preventative to avoid the risk of chronic pain that can occur if it's not taken out. Steven J. Klepps and David W. Shenton. Current Treatment of Acromioclavicular Separations. In Current Opinion in Orthopaedics. July 2007. Vol. 18. No. 4. Pp. 373-379.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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