Frozen shoulder -- also known as adhesive capsulitis -- is a condition in which the connective tissue enclosing the shoulder joint gets thickened and tight. It causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint, and it affects some 200,000 people in the U.S. each year.
While symptoms of frozen shoulder can be treated with physical therapy, and the pain usually subsides in one to three years, patients are typically told to "tough it out" until the stiffness resolves.
Instead of that approach, a research team led by Dr. Sandeep Bagla, CEO of Vascular Interventional Partners NOVA, investigated an interventional radiology technique that uses embolization to alleviate the symptoms that cause frozen shoulder. The technique involves the insertion of a catheter through an incision in the wrist, through which microsphere particles are fed into up to six arteries in the shoulder to reduce inflammation.
At SIR 2020, Bagla presented results from a phase II investigational device exemption (IDE) trial in 16 patients who underwent the technique. Researchers used MRI to visualize the shoulder joint, and they tracked each patient's pain, disability, and blood flow in the shoulder before and after the procedure.
They found that all 16 patients report a statistically significant decrease in pain and improved physical function. Bagla and colleagues also reported additional progress at a three-month follow-up.
Bagla et al noted that the treatment is still investigational and that conservative therapies for frozen shoulder should be considered as a first option. They also noted the study's small sample size and lack of control arm. The trial was funded by Terumo Medical, a medical device manufacturer.
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