News Release

September 7, 2005

Contact: Carolyn Pennington, 860-679-4864

Sports Medicine Doctors Offer Novel Procedure to Repair Common Shoulder Injury

Football Season Sees Increase in Shoulder Injuries

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Sports medicine specialists at the UConn Health Center have perfected a novel procedure to repair a separated shoulder, the dislocation of the collarbone and shoulder blade. The UConn doctors were the first in the country to develop the technique which potentially offers patients greater comfort and range of motion and less chance of a second injury.

Dislocation of the collarbone and shoulder blade usually occurs after a direct blow to the top of the shoulder, like when a quarterback hits the ground hard after being sacked by a linebacker. “A separated shoulder is a common injury among football players, but it can happen to anyone who falls and lands on the tip of their shoulder,” says Augustus Mazzocca, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at the UConn Health Center.

The result can be an injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments that hold the bones in your shoulder together. It may be a partial or complete tear of one or both of the main ligaments that connect the collarbone to the shoulder blade, explained Dr. Mazzocca. These ligaments are the acromioclavicular (AC) and coracoclavicular (CC). The most severe shoulder separation completely tears both your AC and CC ligaments and puts your shoulder joint noticeably out of position.

“There are several techniques aimed at reconstructing separated shoulders but none of them is a touchdown,” says Dr. Mazzocca. “One of the criticisms is that during reconstruction the clavicle or collarbone is placed in a nonanatomic position. There is a high rate of failure and many patients are left with an unsatisfactory feeling.”

So Dr. Mazzocca and his colleague, Robert Arciero, M.D., worked on developing a way of repairing the injury, specifically reconstructing the CC ligament, that more closely resembled the anatomy of the shoulder.

“The joint reconstruction we’ve designed places the tendon grafts in the exact anatomic locations,” explained Dr. Arciero. “We also attempt to reconstruct any remnants of the ligaments that were injured, specifically the superior and posterior portions.”

Because the repair is anatomically correct, it is much stronger and the healing is more reliable. The result is an improved and more natural range of motion and a lower chance of recurrence. “When you can more precisely recreate the anatomy, you generally have a better outcome,” added Dr. Mazzocca.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

Note: News professionals are invited to visit the UConn Health Today news page ( for regularly updated news and feature stories, photos and media stories. News releases are archived at UConn Health news and information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.