Joint aspirations are performed in order to remove fluid from the joint space. This procedure is most often done on the knee. However, fluid can also be removed from other joints, such as hip, shoulder, ankle, elbow, wrist, base of the thumb, and small joints of the hands and feet. Hip joint aspirations may require the aid of an additional imaging technique for guidance. Some small joints may also be more easily aspirated with imaging guidance.
By analyzing the fluid aspirated from the joint space, physicians can diagnose various joint problems such as Gout, arthritis and infection.
Joint aspirations may also be performed to reduce swelling and pain of the joint by removing excess fluid to reduce pressure and improve mobility of the joint.
What to Expect:
After cleaning and applications of a local anesthesia, a needle is maneuvered into the joint of interest. For diagnostic lab testing, a small amount of fluid will be drawn out through a syringe. For swelling or pain relief, a larger amount of fluid may be drawn. This process takes only a few minutes and you can resume most daily activities immediately after your procedure. For a few days, you should refrain from exceptionally heavy lifting and keep the needle entry site clean and covered with a bandage.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the benefit of joint aspiration?
The fluid obtained from a joint aspiration can help your physician determine the cause of your joint issues. That information can help them to provide a proper treatment plan. In cases of joint pain and swelling, fluid removal is therapeutic and will provide immediate relief of pressure in the joint space.
What are the risks?
This procedure is relatively safe with minimal risks. Some risks include discomfort, bruising, slight swelling or possible infection at the aspiration site.
No special preparation is necessary before joint aspirations. Food and fluid intake do not need to be restricted.
You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking including anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medicines, aspirin, or other medicines that affect blood clotting. It may be necessary for you to stop these medicines before the procedure. Also alert your physician if you have any allergies or if you have other medical conditions such a history of bleeding disorders.
You may be asked to remove some of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere.
Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation.