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Nonsurgical Treatment May Ease Rotator Cuff Injury

Ultrasound-guided procedure reduced pain and restored mobility in tendinitis patients, study finds

TUESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Millions of people suffer from tendinitis of the rotator cuff, but a minimally invasive procedure can significantly reduce their pain and restore mobility of the shoulder, Italian researchers say.

Their study included 287 patients with calcific tendinitis, which involves small calcium deposits within the tendons of the rotator cuff in the shoulder. The patients were randomly assigned to receive ultrasound-guided percutaneous (through the skin) therapy (219 patients) or to a control group that didn't receive treatment (68 patients). Follow-up was conducted after one month, three months, one year, five years and 10 years.

During the 20-minute procedure, a radiologist uses ultrasound guidance to inject a saline solution into the rotator cuff to wash the affected area and break up calcium deposits.

Compared to patients in the control group, those who received treatment showed a considerable reduction in pain and improved mobility after one month, three months and one year. After five and 10 years, both groups of patients showed similar improvement, the researchers found.

The study appears in the July issue of the journal Radiology.

"With this treatment, we were able to establish a single inexpensive and effective treatment for calcific tendinitis of the rotator cuff. This has never happened before," study co-author Dr. Luca M. Sconfienza of the University of Milan School of Medicine, said in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America. "This treatment could completely replace other treatments that are affected by several limitations and complications."

In minor cases of calcific tendinitis of the rotator cuff, physical therapy or anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce symptoms until the calcium deposits break apart on their own. Shockwave therapy or open surgery to remove the calcium may be required in severe cases. Open surgery involves hospitalization, rehabilitation and, in some cases, can cause major complications, such as tendon rupture, according to background information in the news release.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about tendinitis.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, June 30, 2009

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