A distal clavicle excision or resection is a surgical procedure performed to relieve pain in and help decompress the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, problems which often develop as a result of a fall or other type of trauma, or from degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis. The collarbone (clavicle) and shoulder tip (acromion) may have excessive cartilage degeneration or arthritis at the AC joint. The physician removes a small piece (3/8 of an inch) from the end of your collarbone, where the worn joint surface becomes increasingly arthritic and painful. Scar tissue grows in place of the bone that allows the AC joint to move more fluidly and relatively painlessly.
Distal clavicle excision surgery typically takes one to two hours, and is usually performed with the patient under general anesthesia. The surgery may be performed as either an open procedure, through a single incision approximately 3-4 centimeters long, or as an arthroscopic procedure, through multiple small incisions, each about one centimeter long, that act as portals for a small camera and required micro-instruments. Arthroscopic surgery has a shorter recovery time. Regardless of the method, any bone spurs or damaged tissue within the joint is typically removed during the surgery.