CT Guided Shoulder Hydrodilatation

”Frozen shoulder” is a condition of the shoulder which results in inflammation and the subsequent production of scar like tissue in the shoulder joint which results in pain, stiffness and reduced movement.

CT Guided Shoulder Hydrodilatation is performed to decrease pain and improve movement in a “frozen” shoulder. The procedure uses an injection of cortisone to treat the inflammation and saline to distend the joint capsule and break up scar tissue, improving movement of the shoulder.

Lake Imaging performs CT Guided Shoulder Hydrodilatation at the following locations:

What to bring

  • A referral from your doctor or specialist is required for this examination, please ensure you bring this to your appointment.
  • Medicare or concession card
  • Previous imaging not performed at Lake Imaging


Please inform the staff at the time of making your appointment if you are taking any medications which thin your blood such as aspirin or warfarin.

It is recommended that you have someone drive you home following your procedure.

What to expect during my procedure

You may be asked to change into an examination gown prior to the examination.

You will then be asked a few safety questions the procedure will be explained to you before you are asked to lie flat on the CT table. The procedure will begin with a planning CT scan. You will need to keep very still for the duration of the scan, as the table moves through the gantry opening and the image data is acquired. You may hear a humming noise during the scan, but no moving parts will touch you.

Once images are acquired the doctor will determine the best approach for the injection and begin the procedure. The skin is washed with antiseptic and local anaesthetic injected. A fine needle is then directed into the shoulder joint using CT guidance and its position confirmed with the injection of a small amount of contrast medium. Following this long-acting local anaesthetic, steroid and saline are then injected to distend the joint capsule and break down adhesions.

You may experience some discomfort during the needle placement and injection but this will quickly pass.

Please allow 20-30 minutes for this procedure.

Risks and side effects

CT Guided Shoulder Hydrodilatation is a very safe procedure with few significant risks.

Possible side effects include:

  • Infection, this is rare(less than 1 in 1000)
  • Post injection “flare” or a transient worsening of pain and symptoms. This occurs in up to 25% of patients and can last for two to three days and is due to an increase in local inflammation in reaction to the injections. Treatment is a combination of rest, analgesia (Paracetamol based pain relief), and anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS)
  • Arophy (weakening and thinning) of soft tissues. This is due to the effects of corticosteroid, and include thinning and loss of colour to the skin, thinning of fat beneath the skin, and tendon tear/rupture. This is the main reason for limiting steroid injections to once every three months and a maximum of three per year
  • Temporary elevation of blood sugar levels (BSL) in diabetics
  • Facial flushing
  • On rare occasions, a person may have an allergic reaction to the injection 

CT scans involve the use of ionising radiation.  CT scans will only be performed when any potential risks are far outweighed by the benefits to the patient. Lake Imaging’s state of the art CT scanners and staff trained in radiation reduction techniques use the latest in CT dose efficient technology to ensure the minimum dose necessary is used to produce the best quality images for an accurate diagnosis.

If you are worried or concerned about having a CT scan you should discuss this with your referring doctor or medical specialist before coming for your examination.

If it is possible that you may be pregnant, please inform our radiology team before your examination to avoid any risks to your unborn child.

For further information regarding radiation safety please visit: h

Who will perform and report my examination

At Lake Imaging your shoulder hydrodilatation will be performed by a Radiologist (a doctor specialising in medical imaging), with the assistance of a Radiographer (medical imaging technologist) who has a degree in Medical Imaging. The Radiologist will send a report to your referring doctor detailing the procedure that has been performed.

What to expect after my procedure

You will be able to leave the clinic shortly after the procedure is completed, it is advised you arrange for someone to drive you home.

If the biopsy site becomes red, swollen or tender, or if you experience any "flu like" or other concerning symptoms in the days after your biopsy, please see your local doctor or contact the Lake Imaging clinic.

How do I receive my results?

The Radiologist will send a report to your referring clinician detailing the procedure performed.

It is recommended you make a follow up appointment with your doctor to review the Shoulder Hydrodilatation treatment you have received.