Joint aspiration is used to obtain joint fluid for examination in the laboratory. Analysis of joint fluid can help to define causes of joint swelling or arthritis, such as infection, gout, and rheumatoid disease. Joint fluid can be tested for white cell count, crystals, protein, glucose and infection.
Joint aspiration can also be helpful in relieving joint swelling and pain. Removal of joint fluid that is inflamed can also remove the white blood cells within that are sources of enzymes that can be destructive to the joint.
How this procedure is performed
The skin over the joint is sterilized using a liquid, typically iodine solution (Betadine). Local anesthetic is used in the area of the joint; either by injection, topical liquid freezing, or both. A needle with a syringe attached is inserted within the joint and fluid is sucked back (aspirated) into the syringe.
For certain conditions, the doctor will also inject medication into the joint after fluid removal. The needle is then removed an a band-aid or dressing is applied over the entry point.
CPG Physicians who perform this procedure
Maria Paula Jofre, MD