What is wrist arthrocentesis?

Updated: Nov 03, 2020
  • Author: Richard S Krause, MD; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Arthrocentesis (joint aspiration) is a basic diagnostic tool in the evaluation and treatment of acute joint pathology. [1, 2, 3] It may be performed not only for diagnosis but also for therapy. Synovial fluid analysis allows distinction between inflammatory and noninflammatory conditions and provides direct proof of crystal arthropathy, infection, and hemarthrosis. Synovial aspiration and corticosteroid injections and infiltrations carry minimal risk to the patient when properly indicated and performed.

The wrist joint is anatomically complex (see Wrist Joint Anatomy), but most of the intercarpal spaces communicate with the radiocarpal joint, which may be entered from a dorsal approach. This is, therefore, the preferred site for aspiration of the wrist joint.

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