(Closed Joint Aspiration)
This is a procedure to take joint fluid out of a joint using a sterile needle. This can be done in most of the joints in the body, but it is usually done on larger ones (eg, knee, shoulder).
Reasons for Procedure
Arthrocentesis is done to:
In some cases, the doctor may inject medicine (eg, cortisone) into the joint space after the fluid has been taken out.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have arthrocentesis, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
Your doctor may give you local anesthesia. This numbs the area around the joint.
Description of the Procedure
Your doctor will clean the area where the needle will be inserted. Next, a needle attached to a syringe will be inserted into the fluid-filled joint cavity. Your doctor will draw the fluid into the syringe. After this, the doctor may take the syringe off and inject some medicine into the joint through the needle. After the needle is removed, the doctor will put pressure on the spot over the joint. A bandage will be placed over the area.
How Long Will It Take?
About 5-10 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
You may feel stinging or burning if local anesthesia is injected into the area.
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
The Arthritis Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine . 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co; 1998.
Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice . 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby-Year Book; 1998.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov . Accessed October 14, 2005.
Last reviewed December 2011 by John C. Keel, MD
Last Updated: 12/30/2011