( 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, such as the knee or shoulder.
Reasons for Procedure
Arthrocentesis is done to:
In some cases, the doctor may inject medication into the joint space after the fluid has been taken out.
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may ask about your medical history. A physical exam may be done, including an examination of the joint.
Imaging tests to help view internal body structures may include:
Your doctor may give you local anesthesia. This numbs the area where the needle will enter 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:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
The Arthritis Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Injections and procedures for knee pain. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthrit... . Accessed July 23, 2013.
Questions and answers about arthritis and rheumatic diseases. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.n... . Updated April 2012. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Synovial fluid analysis. American Association for Clinical Chemistry Lab Tests Online website. Available at: http://labtestsonl... . Updated April 10, 2012. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Zuber TJ. Knee joint aspiration and injection. Am Fam Physician . 2002;66(8):1497-1501.
Last reviewed June 2013 by John C. Keel, MD
Last Updated: 6/1/2013