Medscape is available in 5 Language Editions – Choose your Edition here.


Distal Clavicle Osteolysis Workup

  • Author: Brett D Owens, MD; Chief Editor: S Ashfaq Hasan, MD  more...
Updated: Mar 06, 2015

Imaging Studies

Plain radiography

Obtain anteroposterior and 10-15° cephalic tilt views. Radiographs often appear normal in the early clinical course. With time, loss of subchondral bone detail in the distal clavicle, microcystic changes in the subchondral area, and widening of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint may be seen. The acromion is spared from lytic changes. The presence of panarticular disease should lead to the consideration of other diagnoses (eg, inflammatory disease).

Bone scanning

If plain radiography is nondiagnostic, technetium-labeled bone scanning may help confirm the diagnosis of distal clavicle osteolysis. Increased radiotracer uptake is seen in the distal clavicle.

Magnetic resonance imaging

Some authors have recommended the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to rule out additional shoulder pathology.[8]


Diagnostic Procedures

Because of a moderate incidence of concomitant shoulder pathology (eg, rotator cuff pathology, labral pathology, subacromial impingement, glenohumeral instability), a lidocaine injection into the AC joint may help achieve a more accurate diagnosis.[9]

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Brett D Owens, MD Professor of Surgery, F Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences; Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine; Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Keller Army Hospital

Brett D Owens, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy Association of North America, Orthopaedic Trauma Association, Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons

Disclosure: Received consulting fee from Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation for consulting; Received consulting fee from Johnson & Johnson (MITEK) for consulting; Received royalty from SLACK Publishing for other; Received salary from American Journal of Sports Medicine for employment.


Robert Q Terrill, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical Center

Robert Q Terrill, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Massachusetts Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Pekka A Mooar, MD Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Temple University School of Medicine

Pekka A Mooar, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

S Ashfaq Hasan, MD Associate Professor, Chief, Shoulder and Elbow Service, Department of Orthopaedics, University of Maryland School of Medicine

S Ashfaq Hasan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Cato T Laurencin, MD, PhD University Professor, Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Endowed Distinguished Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, and Professor of Chemical, Materials, and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Cato T Laurencin, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Anthony Schena, MD Consulting Surgeon, ProSports Orthopedics; Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedics, Tufts Medical School

Anthony Schena, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and Arthroscopy Association of North America

Disclosure: genzyme Honoraria Speaking and teaching

  1. Cahill BR. Osteolysis of the distal part of the clavicle in male athletes. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1982 Sep. 64(7):1053-8. [Medline].

  2. Schwarzkopf R, Ishak C, Elman M, Gelber J, Strauss DN, Jazrawi LM. Distal clavicular osteolysis: a review of the literature. Bull NYU Hosp Jt Dis. 2008. 66(2):94-101. [Medline].

  3. Scavenius M, Iversen BF. Nontraumatic clavicular osteolysis in weight lifters. Am J Sports Med. 1992 Jul-Aug. 20(4):463-7. [Medline].

  4. Matthews LS, Simonson BG, Wolock BS. Osteolysis of the distal clavicle in a female body builder. A case report. Am J Sports Med. 1993 Jan-Feb. 21(1):150-2. [Medline].

  5. Roedl JB, Nevalainen M, Gonzalez FM, Dodson CC, Morrison WB, Zoga AC. Frequency, imaging findings, risk factors, and long-term sequelae of distal clavicular osteolysis in young patients. Skeletal Radiol. 2015 Jan 7. [Medline].

  6. Brunet ME, Reynolds MC, Cook SD. Atraumatic osteolysis of the distal clavicle: histologic evidence of synovial pathogenesis. A case report. Orthopedics. 1986 Apr. 9(4):557-9. [Medline].

  7. Tao HM, Chen J, Ji YY. Post-traumatic osteolysis of the distal clavicle, pubis and ischium in 7 patients. Chin J Traumatol. 2004 Aug. 7(4):247-52. [Medline].

  8. Kassarjian A, Llopis E, Palmer WE. Distal clavicular osteolysis: MR evidence for subchondral fracture. Skeletal Radiol. 2007 Jan. 36(1):17-22. [Medline].

  9. Shaffer BS. Painful conditions of the acromioclavicular joint. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 1999 May-Jun. 7(3):176-88. [Medline].

  10. Flatow EL, Cordasco FA, Bigliani LU. Arthroscopic resection of the outer end of the clavicle from a superior approach: a critical, quantitative, radiographic assessment of bone removal. Arthroscopy. 1992. 8(1):55-64. [Medline].

  11. Flatow EL, Duralde XA, Nicholson GP. Arthroscopic resection of the distal clavicle with a superior approach. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 1995 Jan-Feb. 4(1 Pt 1):41-50. [Medline].

  12. Auge WK, Fischer RA. Arthroscopic distal clavicle resection for isolated atraumatic osteolysis in weight lifters. Am J Sports Med. 1998 Mar-Apr. 26(2):189-92. [Medline].

  13. Freedman BA, Javernick MA, O'Brien FP, Ross AE, Doukas WC. Arthroscopic versus open distal clavicle excision: comparative results at six months and one year from a randomized, prospective clinical trial. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2007 Jul-Aug. 16(4):413-8. [Medline].

  14. Nuber GW, Bowen MK. Arthroscopic treatment of acromioclavicular joint injuries and results. Clin Sports Med. 2003 Apr. 22(2):301-17. [Medline].

  15. Zawadsky M, Marra G, Wiater JM. Osteolysis of the distal clavicle: long-term results of arthroscopic resection. Arthroscopy. 2000 Sep. 16(6):600-5. [Medline].

  16. Rabalais RD, McCarty E. Surgical treatment of symptomatic acromioclavicular joint problems: a systematic review. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2007 Feb. 455:30-7. [Medline].

  17. Charron KM, Schepsis AA, Voloshin I. Arthroscopic distal clavicle resection in athletes: a prospective comparison of the direct and indirect approach. Am J Sports Med. 2007 Jan. 35(1):53-8. [Medline].

Anteroposterior radiograph of 26-year-old male weightlifter with symptomatic distal clavicle osteolysis that responded to conservative measures.
Left distal clavicle excision for distal clavicle osteolysis performed with bone-cutting shaver placed in anterior portal, as viewed from direct posterior-superior portal.
All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2016 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.