Joint aspiration 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 to relieve swelling and/or to obtain fluid for analysis to diagnose a joint disorder 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.
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:
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 near a joint. Removing the fluid will decrease the pressure, relieve pain, and improve movement of the joint. Sometimes, a medicine is injected following removal of the fluid to help treat tendonitis or bursitis.
There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend a joint aspiration.
As with any surgical procedure, complications can happen. Some possible complications may include:
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
A joint aspiration may be done on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices.
Generally, a joint aspiration procedure follows this process:
Once you are home, it is important for you to keep the joint aspiration site clean and dry. Leave the bandage in place for as long as instructed by your healthcare provider.
The aspiration site may be tender or sore for a few days after the joint aspiration procedure. Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your healthcare provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medicines.
Notify your healthcare provider to report any of the following:
Your healthcare provider may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.