The outcome of ultrasound-guided needle decompression and steroid injection in calcific tendinitis

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2010 Jun;19(4):596-600. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2009.09.002. Epub 2009 Dec 2.


Hypothesis: Needle lavage is frequently performed before consideration of surgical removal in shoulders with calcific tendinitis because this may avoid surgery. However, its role in nonoperative treatment has not been fully investigated in terms of clinical and radiographic response. We hypothesized that needle decompression and subacromial steroid injection would show good clinical results in chronic calcific tendinitis patients.

Materials and methods: Thirty-five shoulders in 30 consecutive patients with painful calcific tendinitis were treated by ultrasound-guided needle decompression and subacromial corticosteroid injection. Patients were prospectively evaluated using American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) and Constant scores at 1, 3, and 6 months after the intervention. Size and morphology of the calcific deposits were compared with those in baseline radiographs at each visit.

Results: At 6 months after the index procedure, 25 shoulders (71.4%) showed ASES and Constant score improvements from 48.0 and 53.7 to 84.6 and 87.9, respectively (P < .01). Ten shoulders (28.6%) showed no symptom relief at the last follow-up. In shoulders with pain improvement, the mean size of calcific deposits reduced from 13.6 to 5.6 mm (P < .01), and in shoulders with no pain improvement or that underwent operation, mean size was 13.1 mm at initial visits and 12.7 mm at final visits (P = .75).

Discussion: Shoulders showing little evidence of deposit size reduction at 6 months after needle decompression are less likely to achieve symptomatic improvement and may be considered as candidates for surgical removal.

Conclusion: Needle decompression with subacromial steroid injection is effective in 71.4% of calcific tendinitis within 6 months. The size of calcific deposits in patients that achieved symptom relief was reduced.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acromion
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Calcinosis / physiopathology
  • Calcinosis / therapy*
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Joint*
  • Tendinopathy / diagnostic imaging
  • Tendinopathy / physiopathology
  • Tendinopathy / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate
  • Methylprednisolone