Are Ultrasound-Guided Injections Effective for Trochanteric Bursitis?

Summary and Comment |
August 22, 2013

Are Ultrasound-Guided Injections Effective for Trochanteric Bursitis?

  1. Allan S. Brett, MD

The site of injection might determine whether a patient responds.

  1. Allan S. Brett, MD

We often assume that bursitis is the cause of pain and tenderness over the greater trochanter of the hip. Patients with greater trochanteric pain syndrome often receive corticosteroid injections, not necessarily guided by imaging. However, the relevant anatomy is complex: Several different bursae are present, and the anatomy varies from person to person.

In this retrospective single-site study, researchers in Wisconsin reviewed records of 65 patients who received ultrasound-guided trochanteric corticosteroid injections and who returned pre- and postinjection pain questionnaires. Injections were initiated at the site of maximal tenderness in all patients, but the ultimate location of the needle tip was the greater trochanteric bursa (i.e., deep subgluteus maximus bursa) in 41 patients and into the subgluteus medius bursa in 24 patients. Location of the needle tip was at the discretion of injecting radiologists; no anatomic ultrasound findings distinguished between the two groups. Among patients who received injections into the greater trochanteric bursa, pain improved significantly at 14 days (median improvement, 3 points on a 10-point visual analog scale; P<0.01). In contrast, median improvement was 0 among those who received injections into the subgluteus medius bursa.


This study's flaws include nonrandomized assignment of injection sites and exclusion of an unspecified number of patients who did not return surveys. Nevertheless, the findings might explain why response to steroid injections is so variable in clinical practice. Although these injections are easily done in primary care settings, I believe that we should consider referring selected patients for ultrasound-guided injections, if a specialist who is familiar with these landmarks is available. A nice review of greater trochanter anatomy is available online free of charge (Anesth Analg 2009; 108:1662).

  • Disclosures for Allan S. Brett, MD at time of publication Nothing to disclose


Reader Comments (4)

Paolo Bini Physician, Unspecified, Città della Pieve, Italy

I agree with both Dr.s Holland and McCormick, but for those few unsuccessful procedures it may prove useful to refer the patient to a specialist for a second shot under Us guidance (so I agree also with Dr Brett..); of course the patient should be accurately informed of the imperfect nature of the medical gestures...

GARY HOLLAND Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, Seminole, Florida

With a little experience, the trochanteric bursa is easily palpated and injected. The addition of a local anesthetic indicates immediately if the medication is in the proper area. Yes, lets all try to keep the cost of medical care within reason.


Had hip injection with ultrasound. Result pleasant but only lasted five days. Actual problem was bone on bone arthritis which ultimately required hip replacement. Had spine injection years later. Bloody useless. Actual problem spondelitholesis (my spelling lacks). Overall on average you would find injections not cost effective, though perhaps occasionally offer pleasant results. Very expensive and not often reimbursed.

ROBERT MCCORMICK Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, retired

This is yet another example of utilizing the expensive specialist or specialty for a rather common and 90% treatable the FP's OFFICE . One wonders why medical care is so expensive in the USA.

Your Comment

(will not be published)

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Do you have any conflict of interest to disclose?
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Vertical Tabs

* Required

Reader comments are intended to encourage lively discussion of clinical topics with your peers in the medical community. We ask that you keep your remarks to a reasonable length, and we reserve the right to withhold publication of remarks that do not meet this standard.

PRIVACY: We will not use your email address, submitted for a comment, for any other purpose nor sell, rent, or share your e-mail address with any third parties. Please see our Privacy Policy.