Joint aspiration may be both a diagnostic test and a treatment option. In conditions such as bursitis, there is a fluid build-up that results in swelling and pressure. A similar fluid build-up around the joints can occur with injuries and arthritis.
A joint aspiration is a procedure whereby a sterile needle and syringe are used to drain fluid from the joint. Joint aspiration is medically referred to as arthrocentesis. Joint aspiration is used to obtain joint fluid for examination in the laboratory. Analysis of joint fluid can help to define causes of joint swelling or arthritis. Joint fluid can be tested for white cell count, crystals, protein, glucose, as well as cultured to detect infection. Each of these laboratory parameters can be helpful in defining the cause of a particular form of arthritis.
Aspiration, or removing the fluid through a syringe, can reduce swelling and relieve pressure. The doctor will swab the skin with an antibacterial solution before inserting the aspirating needle. You may feel some pressure and pain as the needle is inserted, but this should be relieved as the fluid is removed.