What are the possible complications of wrist arthrocentesis?

Updated: Nov 03, 2020
  • Author: Richard S Krause, MD; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Surprisingly few complications arise as results of arthrocentesis and corticosteroid injections into the wrist joint.

The most significant issue is the risk of infection. Care must always be taken to use sterile technique. Corticosteroids are contraindicated in patients with septic arthritis. The estimated risk of septic arthritis following aspiration or corticosteroid injection is estimated to be between 1 in 2000 and 1 in 15,000 procedures.

Other complications can arise from misplaced injections. The best-described complication is tendon rupture following corticosteroid injections for tendinitis. The risk of this complication can be minimized by avoiding injection into the tendon itself. No therapeutic agent should be injected against any unexpected resistance. Occasionally, nerve damage can also result from a misplaced injection (eg, median nerve atrophy following attempted injections for carpal tunnel syndrome).

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