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

Updated: Mar 23, 2020
  • Author: Steven N Berney, MD; Chief Editor: Vinod K Panchbhavi, MD, FACS  more...
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The elbow is held in 90° flexion. The olecranon process, the lateral epicondyle, and the radial head are palpated. The needle is then inserted laterally into the triangle formed by these three structures. (See the image below.)

Approach to aspiration of elbow joint, with landma Approach to aspiration of elbow joint, with landmarks labeled. LE = lateral epicondyle; R = radial head; O = olecranon.

For more information, see Elbow Arthrocentesis.

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