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Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Jan;97(4):e9690. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000009690.

Comparison of surgical and conservative treatment of Rockwood type-III acromioclavicular dislocation: A meta-analysis.

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Department of Orthopedics.
Department of Infectious Diseases, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.



There is no consensus on the effects of surgical versus conservative treatment on Rockwood type-III dislocation of the acromioclavicular joint in general orthopedic practice. The objective of this meta-analysis was to compare the clinical outcomes of patients managed surgically and conservatively following type-III acromioclavicular (AC) dislocation.


The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE via Ovid SP, and PubMed databases were searched for randomized controlled trials and observational studies. Patient data were pooled using standard meta-analytic approaches. For continuous variables, the weighted mean difference was used. For dichotomous data, the odds ratio was calculated.


The current analysis included 10 trials on this topic, and the results demonstrated that there were no significant differences between surgical and conservative treatment in terms of pain, weakness, tenderness, post-traumatic arthritis, restriction of strength, unsatisfactory function, and scores (Constant, UCLA, Imatani, SST, DASH, Larsen). Analyses of ossification of the coracoclavicular ligament (OR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.01-2.61) and osteolysis of the lateral clavicle (OR = 2.87, 95% CI = 1.27-6.52) suggested better function with conservative treatment versus surgical treatment, but the latter was superior to conservative treatment with regard to loss of anatomic reduction. Only 1 study showed a higher acromioclavicular joint instability score for surgical management compared with conservative management (P < .00001).


In the management of Rockwood type-III AC dislocation, conservative treatment is superior to surgical treatment. Nonoperative treatment results in a lower incidence of ossification of the coracoclavicular ligament and osteolysis of the lateral clavicle compared with operative treatment. However, there was no statistical difference between operative and nonoperative treatment in terms of clinical outcomes.

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