Rotator Cuff Calcific Tendinitis: Ultrasound-Guided Needling and Lavage Versus Subacromial Corticosteroids

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Barbotage (needling and lavage) is often applied in the treatment of calcific tendinitis of the rotator cuff (RCCT). In a previously published randomized controlled trial, we reported superior clinical and radiological 1-year outcomes for barbotage combined with a corticosteroid injection in the subacromial bursa (SAIC) compared with an isolated SAIC. There are no trials with a midterm or long-term follow-up of barbotage available.


To compare the 5-year results of 2 regularly applied treatments of RCCT: ultrasound (US)–guided barbotage combined with a SAIC (group 1) versus an isolated US-guided SAIC (group 2).

Study Design:

Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.


Patients were randomly assigned to group 1 or 2 and evaluated before and after treatment at regular time points until 12 months and also at 5 years using the Constant score (CS), the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff Index (WORC), and the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH). The calcification location and size and Gärtner classification were assessed on radiographs. The rotator cuff condition was evaluated with US. Results were analyzed using t tests, linear regression, and a mixed model for repeated measures.


Forty-eight patients were included (mean age, 52.0 ± 7.3 years; 25 [52%] female) with a mean baseline CS of 68.7 ± 11.9. After a mean follow-up of 5.1 ± 0.5 years, the mean CS was 90 (95% CI, 83.0-95.9) in group 1 versus 87 (95% CI, 80.5-93.5) in group 2 (P = .58). The mean improvement in the CS in group 1 was 18 (95% CI, 12.3-23.0) versus 21 (95% CI, 16.2-26.2) in group 2 (P = .32). There was total resorption in 62% of group 1 and 73% of group 2 (P = .45). The US evaluation of the rotator cuff condition showed no significant differences between the groups. With the mixed model for repeated measures, taking into account the baseline CS and Gärtner classification, the mean treatment effect for barbotage was 6 (95% CI, –8.9 to 21.5), but without statistical significance. Follow-up scores were significantly associated with baseline scores and the duration of follow-up. Results for the DASH and WORC were similar. There were no significant complications, but 4 patients in group 1 and 16 in group 2 underwent additional treatment during the follow-up period (P < .001).


No more significant differences were found in the clinical and radiological outcomes between barbotage combined with a SAIC versus an isolated SAIC after 5 years of follow-up.


NTR2282 (Dutch Trial Registry).

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