Int J Rheum Dis. 2022 Mar;25(3):303-310. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.14276. Epub 2022 Jan 4.
AIM: Complete arthrocentesis of the effusive knee ameliorates patient pain, reduces intra-articular and intraosseous pressure, removes inflammatory cytokines, and has been shown to substantially improve the therapeutic outcomes of intra-articular injections. However, conventional arthrocentesis incompletely decompresses the knee, leaving considerable residual synovial fluid in the intra-articular space. The present study determined whether external pneumatic circumferential compression of the effusive knee permitted more successful arthrocentesis and complete joint decompression.
METHODS: Using a paired sample design, 50 consecutive effusive knees underwent conventional arthrocentesis and then arthrocentesis with pneumatic compression. Pneumatic compression was applied to the superior knee using a conventional thigh blood pressure cuff inflated to 100 mm Hg which compressed the suprapatellar bursa and patellofemoral joint, forcing fluid from the superior knee to the anterolateral portal where the fluid could be accessed. Arthrocentesis success and fluid yield in mL before and after pneumatic compression were determined.
RESULTS: Successful diagnostic arthrocentesis (≥3 mL) of the effusive knee was 82% (41/50) with conventional arthrocentesis and increased to 100% (50/50) with pneumatic compression (P = .001). Synovial fluid yields increased by 144% (19.8 ± 17.1 mL) with pneumatic compression (conventional arthrocentesis; 13.7 ± 16.4 mL, pneumatic compression: 33.4 ± 26.5 mL; 95% CI: 10.9 < 19.7 < 28.9 mL, P < .0001).
CONCLUSIONS: Conventional arthrocentesis routinely does not fully decompress the effusive knee. External circumferential pneumatic compression markedly improves arthrocentesis success and fluid yield, and permits complete decompression of the effusive knee. Pneumatic compression of the effusive knee with a thigh blood pressure cuff is an inexpensive and widely available technique to improve arthrocentesis outcomes.