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Clin Rheumatol. 2011 Jun;30(6):805-13. doi: 10.1007/s10067-010-1653-6. Epub 2011 Jan 15.

Sonographically guided hydrodissection and corticosteroid injection for scleroderma hand.

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Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.


Scleroderma is associated with intractable hand pain from vasospasm, digital ischemia, tenosynovitis, and nerve entrapment. This study investigated the effect of hydrodissection of the carpal tunnel followed by corticosteroid injection for the painful scleroderma hand. Twenty-six consecutive subjects [12 with painful scleroderma hand and 14 with rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome (RA/CTS)] underwent sonographically observed carpal tunnel hydrodissection with 3 ml of 1% lidocaine administered with a 25-gauge 1-in. needle on a 3-ml RPD mechanical syringe (reciprocating procedure device). After hydrodissection, a syringe exchange was performed, and 80 mg of triamcinolone acetonide was injected. Baseline pain, procedural pain, pain at outcome, responders, therapeutic duration, and reinjection interval were determined. Hydrodissection and injection with corticosteroid significantly reduced pain scores by 67% in scleroderma (p < 0.001) and by 47% in RA/CT (p < 0.001). Scleroderma and RA/CTS were similar in outcome measures: injection pain (p = 0.47), pain scores at outcome (p = 0.13), responders (scleroderma, 83.3%; RA/CTS, 57.1%, p = 0.15), pain at 6 months (p = 0.15), and therapeutic duration (p = 0.07). Scleroderma patients responded better in time to next injection (scleroderma, 8.5 ± 3.0 months; RA/CTS, 5.2 ± 3.1 months, p = 0.03). Reduced Raynaud's attacks and healing of digital ulcers occurred in 83% of subjects. There were no complications. Hydrodissection with lidocaine followed by injection of triamcinolone reduces pain and vasomotor changes in the scleroderma hand. The mechanism may be a combination of hydrodissection-mediated mechanical freeing of entrapped arteries, nerves, and tendinous structures and corticosteroid-induced reduction of inflammatory vasospasm.

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