Patient Education: Arthrocentesis

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Patient Education: Arthrocentesis

What is Arthrocentesis?

Arthrocentesis, also known as joint aspiration, is a medical procedure where a sterile needle and syringe are used to remove fluid from a joint space. This procedure is commonly performed to diagnose and treat various joint conditions, including arthritis, infection, and inflammation.

Purpose of Arthrocentesis:

  • Diagnostic: Arthrocentesis can help identify the cause of joint symptoms by examining the characteristics of the fluid, such as color, clarity, and cell count.
  • Therapeutic: Removing excess fluid from a joint can help alleviate pain, swelling, and improve joint mobility.

Procedure Overview:

During arthrocentesis:

  1. Your skin will be cleaned and sterilized around the joint area.
  2. A local anesthetic may be administered to numb the area.
  3. A sterile needle is inserted into the joint space under the guidance of imaging (e.g., ultrasound).
  4. Fluid is withdrawn into a syringe for analysis or therapeutic purposes.
  5. After the procedure, a bandage may be applied to the site, and you may be instructed to rest and apply ice to the area.

Risks and Complications:

Although arthrocentesis is generally safe, potential risks and complications may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Joint damage
  • Allergic reactions to medications


  • Inform your healthcare provider about any allergies, medications, or medical conditions you have.
  • Follow any pre-procedure instructions provided, such as fasting or discontinuing certain medications.


  • Rest the joint and avoid strenuous activities for a period recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling and pain as needed.
  • Monitor the site for signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, or swelling.


Your healthcare provider will discuss the results of the arthrocentesis and any further treatment recommendations. Follow-up appointments may be scheduled as needed.

Questions and Concerns:

If you have any questions or concerns about the arthrocentesis procedure, its risks, benefits, or aftercare, do not hesitate to discuss them with your healthcare provider.