Joint drainage, or arthrocentesis, involves the insertion of a needle into affected joints in order to remove fluid build-up. In certain instances, corticosteroids may also be applied locally for additional benefit. This procedure is commonly performed on arthritis patients to alleviate stiffness and pain.
During the procedure, patients will be asked to identify a comfortable position which allows the surgeon direct access to the joint. Local anesthetic is often applied to the needle site in order to prevent discomfort. Ultrasound imaging may be used in instances where visibility is hindered, or the joint is deep within the tissue. This procedure typically lasts 5-10 minutes. If performed in patients who take blood thinners, recovery time may be extended, and patients are advised to find a ride home. Soreness is a common side effect, generally lasting approximately 48 hours.
In addition to pain relief, joint drainage may be used to diagnose a range of pathologies including rheumatoid arthritis, gout, hemophilia, microorganisms, osteoarthritis, bacterial infections and more. Careful examination of the synovial fluid removed from the joint may allow for a definitive diagnosis of these diseases.
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