Fluoroscopically guided retrocalcaneal bursa steroid injection: description of the technique and pilot study of short-term patient outcomes

Shlomit A. Goldberg-Stein, Netanel Berko, Beverly Ann Thornhill, Elisabeth C. Elsinger, Eric Walter, Dominic J. Catanese, Daniel B. Popowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe a lateral fluoroscopically guided retrocalcaneal bursa injection technique, report patient outcomes at 1–4 weeks after steroid/anesthetic retrocalcaneal bursal therapeutic injection, and correlate pre-injection diagnostic heel ultrasound variables with improvement in patient pain scores. Materials and methods: After IRB approval, fluoroscopically guided therapeutic retrocalcaneal bursa injections performed using a lateral approach were retrospectively reviewed. Pre-injection heel ultrasound results and pre- and post-injection patient VAS pain scores (scale 0–10) were recorded. The Wilcox matched-pair test compared pain scores, and Spearman’s rho assessed for correlation between pain score changes and heel ultrasound results. Results: Thirty-two injections were performed in 30 patients (25 females, 5 males; mean 56.5 ± 9.3 years, range 39–75 years; 21 left heel, 11 right heel) with technical success in 32 of 32 cases (100 %). Insertional Achilles tendon pathology and retrocalcaneal bursitis were present in 31 of 32 cases (97 %) and 16 of 32 cases (50 %), respectively. Median pre- and post-procedure pain scores were 8 (IQR 7, 10) and 1.75 (IQR 0, 6). A statistically significant decrease in pain score was observed following injection, with a median change of 4.75 (IQR 3, 8; p <0.001). Clinically significant response (>50 % reduction in pain score) was present in 69 % (95 % CI, 0.52–0.86; p <0.001). No significant correlation was identified between a decrease in pain score and a sonographically abnormal Achilles tendon or retrocalcaneal bursa. Conclusion: Fluoroscopically guided retrocalcaneal bursal steroid/anesthetic using a lateral approach is an effective technique. This technique yielded 100 % technical success and a clinically significant decrease in patient pain scores (p <0.001).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalSkeletal Radiology
StateAccepted/In press - Mar 28 2016


  • Musculoskeletal intervention
  • Retrocalcaneal bursitis
  • Steroid injection, fluoroscopic guidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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