What equipment is needed to perform shoulder arthrocentesis?

Updated: Dec 10, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Equipment for shoulder arthrocentesis consists of the following:

  • Alcohol sponges
  • Skin-cleansing agent (chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine)
  • Gauze
  • Gloves (clean nonsterile gloves are sufficient if no contact is made with skin or needle)
  • Local anesthetic
  • Specimen tubes
  • Corticosteroid
  • Bandage
  • Needles - 1.5-in., 25-gauge for anesthetic injection; 18- to 22-gauge for aspiration
  • Syringes - 3-5 mL for anesthetic injection; 5-20 mL for aspiration

A spinal needle may be needed for obese or muscular patients. If increased viscosity is suspected, a larger needle may be required. Larger needles make it easier to distinguish changes in resistance from tendons.

Adequate vacuum probably will not be generated from a syringe smaller than 5 mL. In some cases, a syringe larger than 50 mL may be required, but the practitioner should be cautious of excess suction. Excess suction may retrieve material other than fluid and may prevent aspiration. 

It is recommended that the practitioner use one needle and one syringe size, so as to become accustomed to a standard degree of resistance.

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