Shoulder Arthrocentesis Periprocedural Care

Updated: Apr 06, 2017
  • Author: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Periprocedural Care


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)
  • Needles - 1.5-in., 25-gauge for anesthetic injection and 18- to 22-gauge for aspiration; a spinal needle may be needed for obese or muscular patients
  • Syringes - 3-5 mL for anesthetic injection and 5-20 mL for aspiration
  • Local anesthetic
  • Specimen tubes
  • Corticosteroid
  • Bandage

Patient Preparation


Local anesthesia is recommended. (See Local Anesthetic Agents, Infiltrative Administration.) After skin preparation and identification of the needle insertion site, use a 25-gauge needle to make a small skin wheal with local anesthetic into the subcutaneous tissue and then along the anticipated needle pathway.


The patient should be seated in a comfortable position. For the anterior approach, rest the patient’s hand on his or her lap so that the shoulder is internally rotated. For the posterior approach, place the patient’s hand on the contralateral shoulder.