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Knee Injection Better, Cheaper With Ultrasound

November 9, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Interventional Radiology
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Using ultrasound to guide injections for treatment of knee osteoarthritis greatly improved patients’ response to treatment, reduced their pain, and even saved them money, according to a study that’s scheduled to be presented on Thursday at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta.

The researchers studied 94 knees, randomly selected for injection guided by the traditional palpation method or by ultrasound. Both methods involved numbing the knee with  lidocaine, inserting a needle to remove fluid, removing the syringe (with the needle remaining inserted), and attaching a second syringe to inject 80mg of a corticosteroid.

Results improved dramatically, with a 107 percent increase in the number of people who responded to the treatment and a 51.6 percent reduction in the number of people who did not. The pain measurements showed improvements nearly as great, with a 47 percent reduction in pain during the procedure, a 41.7 percent reduction two weeks after the injection, and a 35.5 percent increase in the length of time the participants reported pain relief after the injection.

The researchers even found that using ultrasound reduced the cost per participant per year by 14.6 percent ($48) and cut the cost per outpatient participant by 58.8 percent ($593).

“The study demonstrates that when physicians use ultrasound and a technique called hydrodissection performed with precise new mechanical syringes to inject the joint, the patient experiences less pain, improved safety, a better response to medications, and less need for other therapy,” said Wilmer M. Sibbitt Jr., MD. Dr. Sibbitt, professor of rheumatology and neurology at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, was an investigator in the study. He was quoted in an ACR news release.

“Rheumatologists are increasingly using ultrasound,” said Dr. Sibbitt, “and patients should be aware that joint injections may be more effective and less painful if their physician offers this option to them.”

Related seminar: State-of-the-Art Imaging and Interventional Radiology

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