Predictive factors for failure of conservative management in the treatment of calcific tendinitis of the shoulder

Mauricio Drummond Junior, Caroline Ayinon, Mark Rodosky, Dharmesh Vyas, Bryson Lesniak, Albert Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Calcific tendinitis of the shoulder is a painful condition characterized by the presence of calcium deposits within the tendons of the rotator cuff (RTC). When conservative management fails, arthroscopic surgery for removal of the calcium may be considered. Surgical removal is often followed by RTC repair to address the resulting tendon defect. This study was performed to assess predictive factors for failure of conservative management and to characterize the rate of RTC repair in the setting of calcific tendinitis. We hypothesize that larger calcific lesion would have a higher likelihood to fail conservative treatment. Methods: A retrospective review of patients who were diagnosed with calcific tendinitis at our institution between 2009 and 2019 was performed. Demographics, comorbidities, pain score (visual analog scale), American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score, range of motion, and patient-reported quality of life measures were recorded and analyzed. All patients underwent a radiograph and magnetic resonance imaging. Size of the calcific lesion was measured based on its largest diameter on magnetic resonance imaging. Statistical analysis included chi-square test, independent t-test, and analysis of variance. Results: Two hundred thirty-nine patients were identified in the study period; 127 (53.1%) were women. The mean age was 54 years, and body mass index was 29.2 with a mean follow-up of 6 months. One hundred and sixty had an intact RTC (67.2%) and 78 had a partial RTC tear (32.8%). Ninety-three of 239 (38.9%) patients failed conservative treatment after an average of 4.4 months, necessitating surgical management. Among patients who underwent surgery, the majority of patients (77 of 93 [82.8%]) required a concomitant RTC repair. Subanalysis demonstrates that calcific lesions >1 cm was significantly associated with failure of conservative treatment (odds ratio = 2.86, 95% confidence interval 1.25-6.29, P <.05). All patients who underwent surgery demonstrated significant improvements in pain scores (6.3 to 2.3 visual analog scale), American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score (47.9 to 90.49), forward flexion (133° to 146.8°), and external rotation (49.2° to 57.6°) (P <.05) postoperatively. Conclusion: Patients with calcific lesions >1 cm had a 2.8× increased likelihood to undergo operative treatment in the setting of calcific tendinitis of the shoulder. Most patients who undergo surgical management for removal of the calcific deposit required a concomitant RTC repair and had significant improvements in shoulder pain and function. This information can be helpful to guide orthopedic surgeons on preoperative planning and discussion when treating calcific tendinitis of the shoulder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-473
Number of pages5
JournalJSES International
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcific tendonitis
  • Calcification
  • Level III
  • Prognosis Study
  • Retrospective Case-Control Design
  • Rotator cuff repair
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Shoulder
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tendinitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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