Hydrodilatation, corticosteroids and adhesive capsulitis: a randomized controlled trial

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2008 Apr 19;9:53. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-9-53.


Background: Hydrodilatation of the glenohumeral joint is by several authors reported to improve shoulder pain and range of motion for patients with adhesive capsulitis. Procedures described often involve the injection of corticosteroids, to which the reported treatment effects may be attributed. Any important contribution arising from the hydrodilatation procedure itself remains to be demonstrated.

Methods: In this randomized trial, a hydrodilatation procedure including corticosteroids was compared with the injection of corticosteroids without dilatation. Patients were given three injections with two-week intervals, and all injections were given under fluoroscopic guidance. Outcome measures were the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) and measures of active and passive range of motion. Seventy-six patients were included and groups were compared six weeks after treatment. The study was designed as an open trial.

Results: The groups showed a rather similar degree of improvement from baseline. According to a multiple regression analysis, the effect of dilatation was a mean improvement of 3 points (confidence interval: -5 to 11) on the SPADI 0-100 scale. T-tests did not demonstrate any significant between-group differences in range of motion.

Conclusion: This study did not identify any important treatment effects resulting from three hydrodilatations that included steroid compared with three steroid injections alone.

Trial registration: The study is registered in Current Controlled Trials with the registration number ISRCTN90567697.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthrography / adverse effects
  • Arthrography / methods*
  • Bursitis / complications
  • Bursitis / diagnosis
  • Bursitis / therapy*
  • Dilatation*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Arterial / adverse effects
  • Injections, Intra-Arterial / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Pain / diagnosis
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN90567697