Ultrasound-guided lavage is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to remove calcium deposits in the rotator cuff of the shoulder.
Calcification can develop in the rotator cuff tendons, causing pain and restricted movement. The aim of ultrasound-guided lavage is to relieve pain in the shoulder and restore proper function.
During the procedure, the patient is placed in a comfortable position, and local anaesthesia is administered to the shoulder capsule. A doctor then inserts a needle between the scapula, clavicle, and head of the humerus, while an assistant medical specialist uses an ultrasound machine to guide the needle to the precise location of the calcium deposit.
Once the needle is in place, the doctor injects a saline solution into the affected tissue. The saline solution helps dissolve the calcium deposits, making them easier to remove.
After the saline solution has been injected, a small suction device is used to remove the broken-down calcium deposits. The procedure typically takes around 30 minutes to complete. Patients can usually go home soon after but will generally be advised not to drive.
Ultrasound-guided lavage has several advantages over other treatments for calcium deposits in the shoulder. It is a minimally invasive procedure, which means that there is less risk of complications and a shorter recovery time. It also does not require general anaesthesia, which can be a concern for some patients.
Another advantage of ultrasound-guided lavage is that it can be repeated if necessary. In some cases, patients may require multiple treatments to completely remove the calcium deposits. Ultrasound-guided lavage can be repeated without causing any harm to the shoulder.
Overall, ultrasound-guided lavage is a safe and effective treatment for calcium deposits in the shoulder. It can provide relief from pain and restore shoulder function.
Naturally, potential patients who are considering this procedure should discuss it with their healthcare provider to determine if it is the right choice for them.
I undertook this procedure at Central Queensland Radiology in early 2022. I experienced no swelling or tenderness afterwards and the previous pain was almost completely relieved. For this reason, I elected not to have cortisone injections.
A week after the procedure, my GP ordered six weeks of rehab with a physiotherapist to build up muscles which had grown weak from lack of recent use, most notably subscapularis and rhomboids. The idea was to activate these muscles and get in the habit of using them each day so that no more calcium deposits would form.
Following the ultrasound procedure and physiotherapy sessions, I had around 95% relief, with only an occasional niggle in the shoulder capsule reminding me to head off to the gym, do some stretches, and have a massage. Eighteen months on, I've had no relapse or deterioration of the rotator cuff.
I highly recommend ultrasound-guided lavage for anyone considering the procedure.
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