Rotator Cuff Calcific Tendinitis

Shoulder Barbotage/Lavage/Steroid Injection

Calcific Tendinitis is a condition where calcium deposits form within a tendon.  It is most commonly found in the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder.  The condition goes through various phases and initially, as the calcium is forming, it tends to be most painful.  At this stage it is commonly misdiagnosed as it can present as other types of tendon-related shoulder problems.  Ultrasound scanning is very good at assisting in this early diagnosis.  At this point a simple steroid injection can provide effective pain relief which is maximised with a period of physiotherapy.  The body can then go through a period of re-absorbing the calcium and the condition resolves in time.

For some people, the condition does not resolve at this stage at which point another procedure called barbotage (also known as lavage and incorporating dry needling) can be considered.   Barbotage involves using ultrasound to guide a needle towards the calcification which in turn is used to gently break it up.  Prior to this, the area is numbed using local anaesthetic and generally the procedure is comfortable and well-tolerated.  After gently breaking the calcium up, the region is flushed with saline (salt water) and is then aspirated (withdrawn) back out bringing with it the calcium fragments into a syringe. Following this process, typically a small steroid injection is provided around the area to give pain-relief following the procedure. 

Barbotage has been shown to be safe and effective in the treatment of resistant calcific tendinitis.  Once again, the effects are maximised with a period of physiohterapy following the procedure.


Life Fit Wellness offer quick access to these treatments for calcific tendinitis via our scan and injection clinic.