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Arthroscopy. 2006 May;22(5):521-7.

Arthroscopic treatment of chronically painful calcifying tendinitis of the supraspinatus tendon.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Saarland Medical School, Homburg/Saar, Germany.



The purpose of this study was to analyze the outcome of arthroscopic removal of calcifying tendinitis of the rotator cuff, to document the postoperative pain evolution, and to analyze structural changes of the supraspinatus tendon by use of ultrasonography.


Fifty-four of 58 patients with a mean age of 45.4 years (+/-8 years) enrolled in the study were available for follow-up. The calcific deposits were exclusively located in the supraspinatus tendon. Shoulder function was evaluated by using the Constant score. Radiographs were obtained preoperatively, immediately postoperatively, and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. The integrity of the rotator cuff was assessed by using ultrasonography.


Shoulder function according to the Constant score improved from 32.8 points (+/-19.8) preoperatively to 90.9 (+/-13.0) at 24 months (P < 0.001). The evolution of postoperative pain was very irregular; 31% of the patients were pain free or reached their minimum pain level after 3 months, 17% after 6 months, 20% after 9 months, and 28% after 12 months; 78% of the patients returned to work within 6 weeks, irrespective of their profession. At the final follow-up 92% of the patients were very satisfied with the outcome. Ultrasonography revealed minor structural changes of the supraspinatus tendon in 66% of the patients.


The study confirmed previously reported successful results of arthroscopic treatment of calcifying tendinitis of the rotator cuff. Complete intraoperative removal of the deposit did not appear to be essential. Even if most of the patients were able to return to work within 6 weeks, postoperative recovery was prolonged over several months in most of the patients. The clinical relevance of the ultrasonographic changes of the supraspinatus tendon has not yet been determined.


Level IV, therapeutic case series.

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