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Ultrasound-guided injections of hyperosmolar dextrose for overuse patellar tendinopathy: a pilot study
  1. Michael Ryan1,
  2. Anthony Wong2,
  3. David Rabago3,
  4. Kenneth Lee4,
  5. Jack Taunton5
  1. 1Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  2. 2Department of Radiology, St Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada
  3. 3Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  4. 4Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  5. 5Division of Sports Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael Ryan, 4195 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA; mryan76{at}


Purpose To evaluate whether ultrasound-guided injection of hyperosmolar dextrose for treatment of patellar tendinopathy decreases pain scores and normalises the appearance of the patellar tendon on ultrasound.

Methods Subjects were referred from primary care clinics and failed conservative treatment. Subjects received a diagnostic ultrasound examination, then ultrasound-guided injection of 25% dextrose with lidocaine into the area of tendinopathy until they were satisfied with treatment. The primary outcome measure was a three-part visual analogue scale (VAS; baseline and mean of 45 weeks after start of treatment) for pain at rest, activities of daily living (ADL) and during sport. Secondary outcomes included segmental ultrasound examinations assessing tendon hypoechogenicity (area and severity score), neovascularity (severity score) and the presence or absence of intratendinous tearing and calcification, irregularities of cortical bone and thickness.

Results 47 consecutive referrals were included. Subjects received a mean of four (±3) injection sessions. At mean 45 weeks post-enrollment, subjects reported a reduction in pain across the three VAS items (rest 38.4±25–18.7±18.4; ADL 51.1±22.9–25.8±20.1; sport 78.1±15.7–38.8±26.1; p<0.01). There was improvement in neovascularity following the dextrose injection. A significant correlation between hypoechogenicity severity scores and pain at follow-up is reported.

Conclusion There was a reduction in pain and an improvement in ultrasound appearance following ultrasound-guided dextrose injections for refractory patellar tendinopathy. An improved hypoechoic appearance of the tendon was associated with decreased pain scores, suggesting that dextrose injections may modify patellar tendinopathy at the tissue level and that fibrillar changes may play a role in tendon nociception.

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  • Funding The authors recognise that financial support for this project was provided by an operating grant from WorkSafeBC.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of British Columbia Clinical Ethics Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.