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What is Shoulder Hydrodilatation?

Hydrodilatation is one of the latest techniques for the treatment of the frozen shoulder. It is performed to decrease the pain and improve the mobility of the shoulder joint.

Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The head of the humerus fits into the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). Connective tissue called the shoulder capsule surrounds the shoulder joint, holding the bones in place. This is lubricated by synovial fluid. All these tissues help in stabilizing the joint and allowing the smooth movement of the shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by pain and loss of motion in the shoulder joint. Frozen shoulder is caused by inflammation of the shoulder capsule. The shoulder capsule becomes thick, tight, and the stiff bands of tissue called adhesions may develop.

Preparing for Shoulder Hydrodilatation

Before shoulder hydrodilatation, you should inform your doctor of any of the following conditions:

  • If you have diabetes
  • If you have any allergies, especially to contrast material or any medications
  • If you are on any blood-thinning drugs especially warfarin
  • If you are feeling unwell
  • If you are pregnant or suspect pregnancy 

Shoulder Hydrodilatation Procedure

  • You will be placed on a table and your doctor or a radiologist will perform the procedure.
  • The skin around your shoulder is sterilized with an antiseptic solution. 
  • A fine needle is then inserted into the shoulder joint under ultrasound guidance. 
  • Once the position of the needle has been confirmed, a mixture of local anesthetic and steroid is injected into the joint through the needle. 
  • A small amount of sterile saline will also be injected through the needle to distend the joint capsule. 
  • At this instance, you may have a feeling of tightness or heaviness and slight discomfort in your shoulder. 
  • After all the fluid has been injected, the needle is removed, and you will be advised to rest for a few minutes on the table.

Post-operative Care for Shoulder Hydrodilatation

You may need to have a companion drive you home after the procedure. Gentle movements of the shoulder can be performed but avoid heavy lifting and intense activity of the shoulder for the subsequent 3 days following the procedure. You will also be advised for a follow-up appointment with your physician.

Complications of Shoulder Hydrodilatation

You may develop a small facial or neck rash that can last for 2 to 3 days after the procedure, but this generally resolves by itself. Although rare, you may develop a fever. Contact your doctor immediately if you develop fever or experience increased pain or redness at the injection site.