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Arthrocentesis  
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Definition  

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.

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Reasons for Procedure  

Arthrocentesis is done to:

  • Find out why a joint is painful, swollen, or fluid-filled
  • Drain fluid out of a swollen joint to decrease pain and increase your ability to move the joint
  • Diagnose the specific type of arthritis occurring within a joint
  • Confirm a diagnosis of infection in the joint
  • Check for crystals in the joint fluid, which could be a sign of gout

In some cases, the doctor may inject medication into the joint space after the fluid has been taken out.

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Possible Complications  

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Infection of the joint
  • Bleeding into the joint
  • Increased pain

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Infections on the skin
  • Recent fever or infection
  • Bleeding disorder
  • Use of blood thinners
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What to Expect  

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:

Anesthesia  

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.

Post-procedure Care  

When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • For