Identifying the tools for an arthrocentesis
Performing an arthrocentesis is also called tapping a joint. To tap a joint, you will need several tools:
- A 25 gauge (G) needle and a 3 cc syringe for anesthesia
- Lidocaine or ethyl chloride freeze spray for anesthesia
- Sterilizing solution (e.g., chlorhexidine)
- Sterile gloves
- Sterile drape
- Fluid collection container (e.g., urine collection cup)
So, now that you know what you need to perform an arthrocentesis, what do you do with these tools?
How to perform arthrocentesis on a joint
The arthrocentesis procedure requires seven simple steps to ensure a safe, clean, and painless tap:
- Mark your site by pushing a needle cap on the skin to create a landmark for the needle.
- Put on sterile gloves and lay down a sterile drape.
- Clean the skin with sterilizing solution, such as a chlorhexidine swab.
- Anesthetize the area with 0.5 cc of lidocaine or ethyl chloride spray.
- Tap the joint using a needle and syringe, sized appropriately for the joint you’re tapping.
- Remove the joint fluid and place in a container.
- Send the fluid to a lab for cell count, culture, gram stain, and crystal evaluation.
Congratulations, now you know the tools and basic procedures for performing an arthrocentesis!
That’s it for now. If you want to improve your understanding of key concepts in medicine, and improve your clinical skills, make sure to register for a free trial account, which will give you access to free videos and downloads. We’ll help you make the right decisions for yourself and your patients.
- Roberts, J. 2019. “Arthrocentesis”. In: Roberts and Hedges’ Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th edition. Philadelphia: Elsevier.