How is joint aspiration (arthrocentesis) of the shoulder performed?

Updated: Mar 23, 2020
  • Author: Steven N Berney, MD; Chief Editor: Vinod K Panchbhavi, MD, FACS  more...
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With the patient in a seated position, the arm is held comfortably at the patient’s side and externally rotated. The coracoid is palpated, and the needle is inserted approximately 1.5 in. (~4 cm) laterally and 1.5 in. (~4 cm) inferiorly. Alternatively, the shoulder can be approached posteriorly by inserting the needle inferior to the acromion. (See the image below.)

Anterior approach to aspiration of glenohumoral jo Anterior approach to aspiration of glenohumoral joint. Point where coracoid can be palpated is marked with "C."

For more information, see Shoulder Arthrocentesis.

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