Arthrocentesis (Joint Aspiration)


Arthrocentesis is also known as joint aspiration. It is a process where the doctor uses a needle to drain fluid out of a joint. Joints are where two bones meet. They allow swift movement to our bodies. The knees, hips, ankles, elbows, shoulders, and knuckles are all joints of our body. 


Before Surgery

First, the doctors would make sure that the patient is comfortable with the process. This includes some or all of the following:

  • Putting an anesthetizing medication on the skin.
  • Using a small needle to inject the anesthetizing medication into the area around the joint.
  • Sedating the patient by giving medicine through an IV (intravenously) to make the patient feel sleepy and relaxed.

If the patient is sedated, his or her vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and blood oxygen level) would be checked during the entire procedure. 

During the Surgery

When the patient gets comfortable, the doctors would eventually start the procedure. During Arthrocentesis:

  1. The joint and surrounding area is sanitized with a special soap to disinfect the skin.
  2. The doctors then cautiously insert the needle into the joint. In some instances, an ultrasound is used to guide the needle into the right place.
  3. When the needle gets in the place, the doctors use it to drain out some joint fluid into the syringe.
  4. The needle is then drawn out, and the fluid is sent to a laboratory for analysis.
  5. A small bandage is then put over the site where the needle went in to prevent any blood loss.

After the Surgery

If the patient was awake during the whole process, the area where the Arthrocentesis was carried out might hurt a little bit. No need to worry; this pain is casual and would probably go away within a few hours. If the patients were sedated, he or she would need a few hours to rest after the process.

People should follow the recommendations of their doctors for activities after the procedure. The lab results generally get back within a few days. The laboratory tests would analyze for bacteria, germ-fighting cells, signs of inflammation (irritation and swelling), and other things in the joint fluid. People should ask their doctors how they would get the test results.

People should call their doctor if they have queries or if the patient:

  • gets fever
  • has pain that keeps on getting worse
  • has redness or swelling of the joint


Arthrocentesis is a safe process with very few risks associated with it. Very rarely, bleeding, infection, or allergic reactions could happen. The doctors would review all risks with the patients before they undergo the procedure.



To make sure that the patients are getting proper aftercare, people should follow all the set of rules for caring for the joint where the Arthrocentesis was done. Regular follow-ups with the doctor should be done to keep up with any health-related changes in the patient.

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