Shoulder Hydrodilatation

Hydrodilatation is one of the latest techniques for treatment of frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. Adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder is a condition characterized by the contraction and inflammation of the joint capsule surrounding the shoulder joint. This is associated with pain, stiffness and loss of range of motion in the shoulder joint. Hydrodilatation is performed to decrease the pain and improve the mobility of the shoulder joint.

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


You will be placed on an X-ray table andthe radiologist, assisted by a nurse or a radiographer, will perform the procedure. Your skin around the shoulder is sterilized with an antiseptic solution. A fine needle is then inserted into the shoulder joint under X-ray guidance. A small amount of contrast medium is injected through the needle to confirm proper positioning of the needle. 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 a 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.

After the procedure

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.

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, a few patients can develop fever. Contact your doctor immediately if you develop fever or experience an increased pain or redness at the injection site.

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