Joint aspiration is used to remove fluid from joints

Joint aspiration, or arthrocentesis, is a procedure to remove fluid from the space around a joint using a needle and syringe. This is usually done under a local anesthetic either to relieve swelling or to obtain fluid for analysis to diagnose a joint disorder and/or problem.

Joint aspiration is most often done on the knee. However, fluid can also be removed from other joints, such as the hip, ankle, shoulder, elbow or wrist.

Other related procedures that may be used to help diagnose joint problems include X-ray, bone scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, arthroscopy, and arthrography. Please see these procedures for additional information.

Analyzing fluid removed from joints helps diagnose certain conditions

Joint aspiration may be done to diagnose and assist in the treatment of joint disorders and/or problems. By analyzing the fluid, the following conditions may be diagnosed:

  • Gout
  • Various types of arthritis
  • Joint infection

Joint aspiration can also be done to remove a large collection of fluid around a joint. Sometimes bursitis (inflammation of the bursa) causes fluid to collect in a joint. Removing the fluid will decrease the pressure, relieve pain, and improve movement of the joint. Sometimes, medication is injected into the joint following removal of the fluid to help treat tendonitis or bursitis.

There may be other reasons for your health care provider to recommend a joint aspiration.

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