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Intra-articular injection of the acromioclavicular joint

Authors: W. Pichler, A. M. Weinberg, S. Grechenig, N. P. Tesch, N. Heidari, and W. Grechenig

References: J Bone Joint Surg Br 2009 91-B: 1638-1640.

Intra-articular punctures and injections are performed routinely on patients with injuries to and chronic diseases of joints, to release an effusion or haemarthrosis, or to inject drugs. The purpose of this study was to investigate the accuracy of placement of the needle during this procedure.

A total of 76 cadaver acromioclavicular joints were injected with a solution containing methyl blue and subsequently dissected to distinguish intra- from peri-articular injection. In order to assess the importance of experience in achieving accurate placement, half of the injections were performed by an inexperienced resident and half by a skilled specialist. The specialist injected a further 20 cadaver acromioclavicular joints with the aid of an image intensifier. The overall frequency of peri-articular injection was much higher than expected at 43% (33 of 76) overall, with 42% (16 of 38) by the specialist and 45% (17 of 38) by the resident. The specialist entered the joint in all 20 cases when using the image intensifier.

Correct positioning of the needle in the joint should be facilitated by fluoroscopy, thereby guaranteeing an intra-articular injection.

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