Biomechanical study of the ligamentous system of the acromioclavicular joint.

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The ligamentous structures of the acromioclavicular joint were studied by gross examination and quantitative measurement in twelve human cadaver specimens. Distances between insertions at various extreme positions of the clavicle were studied with the biplane radiographic technique. Ligamentous contributions to joint constraint under displacements were determined by performing load-displacement tests along with sequential sectioning of the ligaments. Twelve modes of joint displacement were examined. The acromioclavicular ligament acted as a primary constraint for posterior displacement of the clavicle and posterior axial rotation. The conoid ligament appeared to be more important than has been previously described. That ligament played a primary role in constraining anterior and superior rotation as well as anterior and superior displacement of the clavicle. The trapezoid ligament contributed less constraint to movement of the clavicle in both the horizontal and the vertical plane except when the clavicle moved in axial compression toward the acromion process. The various contributions of different ligaments to constraint changed not only with the direction of joint displacement but also with the amount of loading and displacement. For many directions of displacement, the acromioclavicular joint contributed a greater amount to constraint at smaller degrees of displacement, while the coracoclavicular ligaments, primarily the conoid ligament, contributed a greater amount of constraint with larger amounts of displacement.

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