When is shoulder arthrocentesis indicated?

Updated: Dec 10, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Diagnostically, shoulder arthrocentesis is indicated in patients with shoulder pain for injection of anesthetic (with or without corticosteroid) with the aim of determining whether the glenohumeral joint is the source of the patient's pain. By permitting joint aspiration, arthrocentesis aids in the diagnosis of the underlying pathologic process through synovial fluid analysis. [1, 2]

Therapeutically, shoulder arthrocentesis is indicated for providing pain relief and functional improvement in patients who have glenohumeral osteoarthritisrheumatoid arthritis, or adhesive capsulitis [3]  (this may be performed through drainage of an effusion, septic joint, or hemarthrosis or through instillation of medication).

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